Wouter Bos

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Wouter Bos
Bos Dutch politician kabinet Balkenende IV.jpg
Wouter Bos in 2007
Deputy Prime Minister
In office
22 February 2007 – 23 February 2010
Serving with André Rouvoet
Prime MinisterJan Peter Balkenende
Preceded byGerrit Zalm
Succeeded byAndré Rouvoet
Minister of Finance
In office
22 February 2007 – 23 February 2010
Prime MinisterJan Peter Balkenende
Preceded byGerrit Zalm
Succeeded byJan Kees de Jager
Parliamentary leader in the
House of Representatives
In office
19 November 2002 – 22 February 2007
Preceded byJeltje van Nieuwenhoven
Succeeded byJacques Tichelaar
Parliamentary groupLabour Party
Leader of the Labour Party
In office
12 November 2002 – 25 April 2010
Preceded byAd Melkert
Succeeded byJob Cohen
State Secretary for Finance
In office
24 March 2000 – 22 July 2002
Prime MinisterWim Kok
Preceded byWillem Vermeend
Succeeded bySteven van Eijk
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
23 May 2002 – 22 February 2007
In office
19 May 1998 – 24 March 2000
Parliamentary groupLabour Party
Personal details
Wouter Jacob Bos

(1963-07-14) 14 July 1963 (age 56)
Vlaardingen, Netherlands
Political partyLabour Party (from 1981)
Barbara Bos (m. 2002)
ChildrenIris Jessie Bos (born 2004)
Julia Roos Bos (born 2006)
Joppe Bos (born 2009)
ResidenceAmsterdam, Netherlands
Alma materVrije Universiteit Amsterdam (Bachelor of Social Science, Master of Social Science, Bachelor of Economics, Master of Economics)
OccupationPolitician · Civil servant · Economist · Businessman · Corporate director · Financial adviser · Political consultant · Management consultant · Lobbyist

Wouter Jacob Bos (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈʋʌutər ˈbɔs]; (born 14 July 1963) is a retired Dutch politician of the Labour Party (PvdA) and businessman. He is the CEO and Chairman of the Dutch Invest Agency since 1 October 2018

Bos was elected as a Member of the House of Representatives after the election of 1998, he served in the House of Representatives from 19 May 1998 until 24 March 2000. Following State Secretary for Finance Willem Vermeends appointment as Minister of Social Affairs and Employment in the Cabinet Kok II, Bos was selected as his successor as State Secretary for Finance, serving from 24 March 2000 until 22 July 2002.

Following the election of 2002 the Labour Party suffered a big defeat in the election losing 22 seats in the House of Representatives, Leader of the Labour Party and Parliamentary leader in the House of Representatives Ad Melkert accepted responsibility for the defeat and sequentially left national politics. He resigned as Leader of the Labour Party and Parliamentary leader of the Labour Party in the House of Representatives on 16 May 2002. Bos who was elected to the House of Representatives after the election, returned as a Member of the House of Representatives on 23 May 2002. Soon after the resignation of Melkert Bos announced his candidacy for the Labour Party leadership and won by a landslide with 60% of the votes. Bos became the Leader of the Labour Party and Parliamentary leader of the Labour Party in the House of Representatives on 19 November 2002 and Lijsttrekker (top candidate) of the Labour Party for the election of 2003. The Labour Party was the largest winner of the election, gaining 19 seats (from 23 to 42) and became the second largest party in the House of Representatives. After a failed cabinet formation a new cabinet was formed without the Labour Party. Bos served as opposition leader during the parliamentary period of the Cabinets Balkenende II and III. For the Dutch general election of 2006 Bos again as lijsttrekker lost 9 seats but the Labour Party remained the second largest party with 33 seats. The following cabinet formation resulted in a coalition agreement which formed the Cabinet Balkenende IV, comprising the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), Labour Party (PvdA) and the ChristianUnion (CU). Bos became Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister, the cabinet took office on 22 February 2007. The cabinet fell on 20 February 2010 as the result of disagreement between CDA and Labour Party over the extension of ISAF mission in Afghanistan. Bos resigned his position as Party leader to spend more time with his family and retired from active politics.

Since his retirement from politics, Bos became a partner at the professional services firm KPMG and is also a consultant for the financial sector.[1][2] On 21 June 2013 Bos was appointed as chairman of the board of directors of VU University Medical Center.



Bos was raised in a Doorbraak social-democratic family with a Protestant background in Vlaardingen. His father founded the ecumenical development cooperation fund ICCO, which he also led for many years. Between 1969 and 1974 Bos attended the Protestant elementary school de Beurthonk in Odijk. From 1974 he attended the Protestant high school Christelijk Lyceum in Zeist. In 1980 he graduated specializing in sciences and classics. In 1980–81 he was a Voluntary Instructor at the YMCA National Centre in Curdridge in the United Kingdom.

Life before politics[edit]

He became a member of the PvdA in 1981. In the same year Bos started studying Political Science at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. In 1982 he also took up Economics. In 1988 he graduated cum laude in both subjects.

From 1988 till 1998 he worked for Royal Dutch Shell in various positions. With a background in Shell, he differs from other Dutch leftwing politicians, who rarely have a background in a major multinational corporation. Bos began to work for Shell because he thought that "the Dutch Left should not leave the business world to the Dutch Right".

Between 1988 and 1990 he worked at the Pernis Refinery as a management consultant, where he was a specialist on training and reorganisation. In 1990 he became policy advisor for the central board, specializing in labour relations and working conditions, he also served as representative of the central board in its dealings with the central works council. In 1992–93 he was stationed as general affairs manager for Shell Romania Exploration, where he was responsible for setting up the Romanian branch of Shell. In 1993 he was stationed in Hong Kong, to work as staff planning and development manager for Shell Companies in Greater China, responsible for the recruitment and selection of new manager for Shell in South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. In 1996 he returned to Europe, and worked as a consultant for new markets for Shell International Oil Products in London, focusing on acquisition in developing LPG markets in South America and Asia. In 1998 he left Shell to enter Dutch politics. For a short while he was policy advisor for the PvdA parliamentary party in the lower house and a personal assistant of the party's financial spokesperson, Rick van der Ploeg.

Political life[edit]

Wouter Bos and former Prime Minister Wim Kok and Leader of the Labour Party Job Cohen at a party conference in Amsterdam on 1 May 2011.

In 1998 he was elected into the lower house of parliament for the PvdA as finance specialist. He campaigned together with Rick van der Ploeg and Willem Vermeend as "the Polderboys" and gave lectures in economics at universities. In 2000, due to a cabinet reshuffle, he succeeded Willem Vermeend as staatssecretaris for Finance, and became responsible for taxation, monetary policy and finances of lower-level government. Together with Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm he was able to get parliamentary support for a radical reform of the tax system. After the May 2002 elections he returned to parliament, as a specialist on income policy and health affairs.

After the fall of the first Balkenende cabinet Bos was elected top candidate for the following elections and de facto leader of the PvdA in the 2002 PvdA leadership election by 60% of the voting party members. He immediately became the chairman of the parliamentary party, succeeding Jeltje van Nieuwenhoven, and leaving her, Klaas de Vries and Jouke de Vries behind him by a 30% margin.

In the January 2003 election, Bos entered a head to head race with incumbent Prime Minister and leader of the Christian Democratic CDA, Jan Peter Balkenende. Under Bos the vote and seats of the PvdA nearly doubled from 15% (23 seats) in 2002 to 27% (42 seats) in 2003. This resurgence was partially credited to Bos' charisma and youthful appearance (and according to some journalists Bos' "sexy touch"). Balkenende's CDA however remained largest the party by a margin of two seats. The ensuing coalition formation talks between Balkenende and Bos failed after several months. The CDA went on to form a government with the conservative liberal VVD, and the progressive liberal D66.

At that time Bos was the leader of the largest opposition party.[3] He spent considerable time reforming the PvdA's internal organisation and public image, together with the party's chairman Ruud Koole. He was criticized for his silence on important reforms and issues, and his moderacy which resulted in other parties claiming opposition leadership, among them most notably the Socialist Party. Although still enjoying large public support, criticism about his "style over substance" approach to politics was voiced in this period. At the December 2005 party congress, Bos announced that he aspired to become Prime Minister of the Netherlands, should the PvdA succeed in becoming the biggest party after the next parliament elections. And in the 2006 municipal elections, a few months lather, the PvdA performed particularly well, becoming the largest party in local government.

However, in the election campaign for the Dutch general elections of 2006 the PvdA – for the second time campaigning under his leadership – didn't manage to maintain this position as biggest party. Some considered pension reforms proposed by him to embattle the consequences of an aging population as a reason for this decline in popularity.[4] Others emphasized a declining confidence in Bos among parts of the electorate that perceived him as "unreliable", as reason for this.[5] Bos lost eight seats in the elections, which saw large gains for the main rival of Labour on the left side of the political spectrum, the more radical Socialist Party. Nonetheless, after these elections (and this time successful coalition talks with Prime Minister Balkenende), Bos became Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance in the Fourth Balkenende cabinet, thereby breaking a campaign promise to only join a cabinet when he could hold the office of Prime Minister.[citation needed]

As part of the leadership of the PvdA he revoked his confidence in fellow party member Ella Vogelaar as Minister of Integration and Housing. She subsequently resigned her post on November 13, 2008. The Dutch parliamentary press chose him as politician of the year 2008, largely due to his crisis management of the financial crisis of 2007–2008 that included nationalization of the Fortis bank.[6]

Personal life[edit]

In December 2002 Bos married Barbara Bos (the surname is a coincidence). The master of ceremonies of his marriage was Joop Wijn, the former State Secretary of finance for the CDA. Wouter and Barbara Bos have two daughters, Iris Jessie (5 February 2004) and Julia Roos (3 January 2006) and a son Joppe (18 April 2009)


Ribbon bar Honour Country Date Comment
NLD Order of Orange-Nassau - Officer BAR.png Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau Netherlands 3 December 2010 Elevated from Knight (10 December 2002)


  1. ^ "Wouter Bos steps down as Dutch Labour leader"
  2. ^ (in Dutch)"PvdA-leider Wouter Bos verlaat politiek"
  3. ^ "Left-winger uses Fortuyn formula to lead Dutch election race"
  4. ^ "Balkenende wijst uitnodiging Bos af", De Telegraaf (1-10-2006) "Volgens Balkenende heeft Bos problemen omdat hij „vervelende” boodschappen als de beperking van de hypotheekrenteaftrek en de fiscalisering van de AOW aan de kiezer moet verkopen."
  5. ^ "Kiezer is links, stemt rechts", Trouw (11-11-2006) "Het verlies voor de PvdA zit vooral in de geringe waardering voor de persoon van lijsttrekker Wouter Bos. De PvdA-leider scoort laag op punten als betrouwbaarheid en bekwaamheid. Zijn grote concurrent Balkenende scoort op betrouwbaarheid stukken beter en op bekwaamheid heeft hij zijn eerdere achterstand goedgemaakt."
  6. ^ "Wouter Bos gekozen tot politicus van het jaar" (in Dutch). Trouw. 14 December 2008. dutch original "PvdA-leider Wouter Bos is door de parlementaire pers gekozen tot politicus van het jaar 2008.
    De Haagse burgemeester Jozias van Aartsen (VVD), die de uitslag op Radio 1 bekendmaakte, noemde Bos een 'comeback kid' in de politiek en 'onze nationale crisismanager', refererend aan het optreden van Bos als minister van Financiën tijdens de financiële crisis. "
    English translation:"PvdA-leader Wouter Bos has been chosen as politician of the year 2008 by the parliamentary press.
    The mayor of the Hague, Jozias van Aartsen (VVD), who announced the result on Radio 1, called Bos a 'comeback kid' in politics and 'our national crisis manager', referring to Bos' measures as Finance Minister during the financial crisis.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Ad Melkert
Leader of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Job Cohen
Lijsttrekker of the Labour Party
2003, 2006
Preceded by
Jeltje van Nieuwenhoven
Parliamentary leader of the Labour Party
in the House of Representatives

Succeeded by
Jacques Tichelaar
Political offices
Preceded by
Willem Vermeend
State Secretary for Finance
Succeeded by
Steven van Eijk
Preceded by
Gerrit Zalm
Deputy Prime Minister
Served alongside: André Rouvoet
Succeeded by
André Rouvoet
Minister of Finance
Succeeded by
Jan Kees de Jager
Civic offices
Preceded by
Office established
CEO and Chairman of the
Dutch Invest Agency

Business positions
Preceded by
Cees Veerman
Chairman of the
VU University Medical Center

Succeeded by
Chris Polman