Former Netherlands prime minister Wim Kok dies aged 80

By On October 20, 2018

Former Netherlands prime minister Wim Kok dies aged 80

Netherlands Former Netherlands prime minister Wim Kok dies aged 80

Architect of consensus model oversaw legalisations of euthanasia and gay marriage

Former Dutch prime minister Wim Kok.
Former Dutch prime minister Wim Kok. Photograph: Jerry Lampen/REUTERS

Wim Kok, a former Dutch prime minister who helped forge the country’s famed consensus-based politics and oversaw pioneering legalisations of euthanasia and gay marriage, has died of heart failure.

Kok, who was 80, led two centrist coalitions between 1994 and 2002, overseeing a period of recovery and then of strong economic growth.

A labour union leader earlier in his career, he was one architect of the country’s famed “polder”, or consensus model, in which unions agreed to pay restraint in exchange for more jobs, while employers and the government guaranteed support and retraining after redundancies.

As prime minister, he reined in spending on healthcare, pensions, education and child benefits, using the savings to promote employment.

In a world first, euthanasia was legalised in the Netherlands in 2002, formalising decades of practice.

Though Denmark had first legalised gay partnerships in the 1980s, the Netherlands followed in 1998 and became the first to erase any distinction between same-sex and other marriages in 2001.

Current prime minister Mark Rutte said Kok ‘stood above political parties’. Facebook Twitter Pinterest
Current prime minister Mark Rutte said Kok ‘stood above political parties’. Photograph: Ritzau Scanpix/Reuters

Kok was friends with then-British prime minister Tony Blair and then-US president Bill Clinton as they crafted the moderate centre-left “third way”.

“Shaking off ideological feathers is not a problem only. For a political party like ours, it’s also a liberating experience,” Kok said of steering Labour toward the political centre.

Current prime minister Mark Rutte praised Kok as someone who “stood above political parties”.

Kok was “totally reliable, totally upright, and always focused on solutions”, Rutte said in a statement.

Internationally, Kok was strongly pro-European, helping to seal European economic and monetary union at the Amsterdam summit in 1997.

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  • Europe
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Source: Google News Netherlands | Netizen 24 Netherlands

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