Hermans studied public administration at the Catholic University of Nijmegen. From 1974 to 1978 he was a member of the municipal council of Nijmegen. From 1977 to 1990 and also in 2002, he was a member of the House of Representatives. He was mayor of Zwolle from 1990 to 1994. Subsequently he was Queen's Commissioner of Friesland from 1994 to 1998, and afterwards from 1998 to 2002 minister of Education, Culture, and Science in the Second Kok cabinet.
Between 2007 and 2015 he was a member of the Senate, and from 2011 to 2015 also Senate group leader. He resigned after a judicial verdict of mismanagement at Meavita, a health care organisation where Hermans was chair of the board of commissioners when the organisation went bankrupt in 2009.
- (in Dutch) Parlement.com biography
- Gingrich, Jane R. (2011-07-31). Making Markets in the Welfare State: The Politics of Varying Market Reforms. Cambridge University Press. pp. 171–. ISBN 978-1-107-00462-7. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
- "Hermans treedt na Meavita-debacle af als senator VVD" (in Dutch). Algemeen Dagblad. 2 November 2015. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
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