Open main menu

Andreas Antonius Maria "Dries" van Agt (Dutch: [ˈdris fɑn ˈɑxt] (About this soundlisten);[1] born 2 February 1931) is a retired Dutch politician and diplomat of the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) party and jurist who served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 19 December 1977 until 4 November 1982.

Dries van Agt
Dries van Agt (1980).jpg
Dries van Agt in 1980
Prime Minister of the Netherlands
In office
19 December 1977 – 4 November 1982
MonarchJuliana (1977–1980)
Beatrix (1980–1982)
Deputy
Preceded byJoop den Uyl
Succeeded byRuud Lubbers
Ambassador of the European
Union to the United States
In office
1 January 1990 – 1 April 1995
Preceded byRoy Denman
Succeeded byHugo Paemen
Ambassador of the European
Union to Japan
In office
1 January 1987 – 1 January 1990
Preceded byLaurens Jan Brinkhorst
Succeeded byJean-Pierre Leng
Queen's Commissioner of
North Brabant
In office
1 June 1983 – 22 April 1987
MonarchBeatrix
Preceded byJan Dirk van der Harten
Succeeded byFrank Houben
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
28 May 1982 – 4 November 1982
Prime MinisterHimself
Preceded byMax van der Stoel
Succeeded byHans van den Broek
Parliamentary leader in the
House of Representatives
In office
10 June 1981 – 24 August 1981
Preceded byRuud Lubbers
Succeeded byRuud Lubbers
In office
8 June 1977 – 19 December 1977
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byWillem Aantjes
Parliamentary groupChristian Democratic Appeal
Leader of the Christian
Democratic Appeal
In office
10 December 1976 – 25 October 1982
Deputy
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byRuud Lubbers
Deputy Prime Minister
In office
11 May 1973 – 8 September 1977
Prime MinisterJoop den Uyl
Preceded byRoelof Nelissen
Molly Geertsema
Succeeded byGaius de Gaay Fortman
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
16 September 1982 – 16 June 1983
In office
10 June 1981 – 9 September 1981
In office
8 June 1977 – 19 December 1977
In office
23 January 1973 – 22 April 1973
Parliamentary groupChristian Democratic Appeal
(1981–1983)
Catholic People's Party
(1973–1977)
Minister of Justice
In office
6 July 1971 – 8 September 1977
Prime MinisterBarend Biesheuvel (1971–1973)
Joop den Uyl (1973–1977)
Preceded byCarel Polak
Succeeded byGaius de Gaay Fortman
Personal details
Born
Andreas Antonius Maria van Agt

(1931-02-02) 2 February 1931 (age 88)
Geldrop, Netherlands
NationalityDutch
Political partyChristian Democratic Appeal
(from 1980)
Other political
affiliations
Catholic People's Party
(until 1980)
Spouse(s)
Eugenie Krekelberg (m. 1958)
ChildrenEugenie (born 1959)
Frans (born 1961)
Caroline (born 1963)
ResidenceNijmegen, Netherlands
Alma materRadboud University Nijmegen
(Bachelor of Laws, Master of Laws)
OccupationPolitician · Diplomat · Civil servant · Jurist · Lawyer · Judge · Researcher · Nonprofit director · Lobbyist · Activist · Author · Professor
Signature
Website(in Dutch) driesvanagt.nl

OverviewEdit

Van Agt worked as a lawyer for the law firm Van der Putt, Nijst, Van Sandick en Depla from 1956 until 1958 and as a Civil service|civil servant working for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Ministry of Justice from 1958 until 1968. Van Agt worked as a professor of criminal procedure at the Radboud University Nijmegen from 1968 until 1971 and was also appointed as a judge at the court of Arnhem in 1971. After the election of 1971 Van Agt was appointed as Minister of Justice in the Cabinet Biesheuvel I, serving from 6 July 1971 until 11 May 1973. After the election of 1972 Van Agt continued as Minister of Justice in the Cabinet Den Uyl and also became Deputy Prime Minister, taking office on 11 May 1973. For the election of 1977 Van Agt was selected as the first Leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal and became the Lijsttrekker (top candidate) on 10 December 1976. The Christian Democratic Appeal made small win, gaining 1 seat and became the second largest party and now had 49 seats in the House of Representatives. Van Agt was elected as a Member of the House of Representatives and became the Parliamentary leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal in the House of Representatives on 8 June 1977. He resigned as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice on 8 September 1977. After a failed cabinet formation with the Labour Party (PvdA), Van Agt struck a deal with the Leader of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy Hans Wiegel that resulted in the formation of the Cabinet Van Agt-Wiegel with Van Agt becoming Prime Minister of the Netherlands and Minister of General Affairs on 19 December 1977.

For the election of 1981 Van Agt served again as Lijsttrekker. The Christian Democratic Appeal sufferd a small lose, losing 1 seat but became the largest party and now had 48 seats in the House of Representatives. The following long cabinet formation resulted in a coalition agreement with the Labour Party and the Democrats 66 (D'66) which formed the Cabinet Van Agt II, with Van Agt continuing as Prime Minister and Minister of General Affairs, taking office on 11 September 1981. The Cabinet Van Agt II fell just seven months into its term, when the Labour Party cabinet members resigned on 29 May 1982. For the election of 1982 Van Agt served for a third and final time as Lijsttrekker. The Christian Democratic Appeal sufferd a small lose, losing 3 seat and became the second largest party and now had 45 seats in the House of Representatives. Shortly after the election Van Agt unexpectedly announced his retirement from national politics and endorsed Ruud Lubbers as his successor. Van Agt stood down as [[Leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal] on 25 October 1982 and Lubbers became the presumed de facto next Prime Minister. He remained as Prime Minister until the Cabinet Lubbers I was installed on 4 November 1982 but continued to serve as a backbencher in the House of Representatives.

After his premiership, Van Agt remained in active politics, in May 1983 Van Agt was nominated as the next Queen's Commissioner of North Brabant, taking office on 1 June 1983 and he resigned as a Member of the House of Representatives on 16 June 1983. Van Agt prematurely resigned as Queen's Commissioner of North Brabant on 22 April 1987 after he was selected as the Ambassador of the European Union to Japan, serving from 1 April 1987 until 1 January 1990 when he became the Ambassador of the European Union to the United States, serving until 1 April 1995. Following the end of his active political career, Van Agt served as a visiting professor for international relations, peace and conflict studies and governmental studies at the United Nations University, Kwansei Gakuin University, Kyoto University and the Ritsumeikan University from 1995 until 2004. After his retirement Van Agt occupied numerous seats as a corporate director and lobbyist for supervisory boards in the business and industry world and several international non-governmental organizations (InterAction Council, Green Cross International and the Edmund Burke Foundation) and as an advocate and activist for the Anti-war movement, human rights and the Two-state solution for the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

Van Agt is known for his abilities as a negotiator and debater. During his premiership, his cabinets were responsible for major reforms to the public sector, civil service and public administration and the struggles with the recession in the 1980s. Van Agt continues to comment on political affairs as a statesman. Following the death of Piet de Jong on 27 July 2016, he became the oldest living former Prime Minister.[2]

Early lifeEdit

Andreas Antonius Maria van Agt was born on 2 February 1931 in Geldrop in the Netherlands Province of North Brabant in a Roman Catholic family. After receiving his diploma Gymnasium-A at the Augustinianum he studied at the Catholic University of Nijmegen, where he received his Doctorate in Law in 1955. After graduating, he practiced law in Eindhoven until 1957, after which he worked in the office of legal and business affairs of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries until 1962. From 1962 to 1968, he worked for the Ministry of Justice.

PoliticsEdit

Minister and Deputy Prime MinisterEdit

 
Deputy Prime Minister Dries van Agt and Prime Minister Joop den Uyl in the House of Representatives on 23 June 1977.
 
Prime Minister Dries van Agt and Leader of the Christian Democratic Union Helmut Kohl at the Ministry of General Affairs on 13 September 1978.
 
Vice President of the United States Walter Mondale and Prime Minister Dries van Agt during a press conference at Airport Schiphol on 21 April 1979.
 
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher and Prime Minister Dries van Agt at the Catshuis on 6 February 1981.
 
Chancellor of West-Germany Helmut Schmidt and Prime Minister Dries van Agt during a press conference at Airport Schiphol on 9 July 1982.
 
Dries van Agt and Prime Minister Mark Rutte in Het Torentje on 18 April 2011.

Van Agt entered politics as a member of the Catholic People's Party, which merged with the other two major Christian Democratic parties in 1980 to form the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA). From 1968 to 1971, Van Agt was Professor of Criminal Law at the Catholic University of Nijmegen. From 1971 to 1973, he was Minister of Justice in the government of Barend Biesheuvel. He caused outrage when he tried to pardon the last three Nazi war criminals still in Dutch prisons in 1972. From 1973 to 1977 he was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice in the government of Joop den Uyl.

Leader of the Christian Democratic AppealEdit

In 1976, Van Agt was elected the first Leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal, then still a federation of the three religious parties Christian Historical Union, Catholic People's Party and Anti-Revolutionary Party, which first ran in 1977 with a united list (the merger followed in 1980). With Van Agt as top candidate, the Christian Democratic Appeal reversed in 1977 years of decline to return to power.

Prime Minister in the Cabinet Van Agt IEdit

In the parliamentary elections of May 1977 the Labour Party obtained their largest number of seats, so a second Den Uyl coalition looked likely. However, the tension between the Catholic People's Party and the Labour Party in the last reign, combined with the fact that a coalition between Christian Democratic Appeal and the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy was possible, the talks failed after a period of seven months. Eventually Van Agt negotiated a deal with Hans Wiegel, leader of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy. From 19 December 1977 to 11 September 1981 Van Agt was Prime Minister of the Netherlands and Minister of General Affairs in the Cabinet Van Agt I.

Prime Minister in the Cabinet Van Agt IIEdit

In 1981, the Christian Democratic Appeal, People's Party for Freedom and Democracy and Labour Party lost parliamentary seats, so a continuation of a Christian Democratic Appeal-People's Party for Freedom and Democracy coalition was not possible. Van Agt, leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal, was forced to go in coalition with the Labour Party. Also Democrats 66 (which, under Jan Terlouw gained a significant number of seats) participated in the coalition talks, after 3 months of difficult negotiations that resulted in the Cabinet Van Agt II (11 September 1981 – 29 May 1982). In this composition Van Agt worked with Joop den Uyl again as Den Uyl was made Deputy Prime Minister and "super minister" of Social Affairs and Employment. The characterological and political differences led to several divisions, and in May 1982 the government fell.

The personal strife between Van Agt and Den Uyl were so deteriorated that when Den Uyl died from a brain tumor in 1987, Van Agt was not invited to the memorial by the family. Den Uyl's wife Liesbeth argued that Van Agt had prevented the second Den Uyl coalition from forming in 1977.

Prime Minister in the Cabinet Van Agt IIIEdit

The caretaker government went through as a minority cabinet, with only ministers from the parties Christian Democratic Appeal and Democrats 66, in the Cabinet Van Agt III. For replacing the six Labour Party ministers, five new Christian Democratic Appeal and Democrats 66 ministers were in place, while van Agt in the cabinet, as well as being Prime Minister was also Minister of Foreign Affairs.

New parliamentary elections were organized for September 1982. Although Van Agt, by this point was worn out, he was persuaded again to be Leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal but shortly after the election he withdrew as a candidate for prime minister and was succeeded by Ruud Lubbers.

Queen's CommissionerEdit

when he was appointed as the Queen's Commissioner of the province North Brabant.

After politicsEdit

DiplomatEdit

Dries van Agt served as Ambassador of the European Community to Japan from 1987 to 1990 and to the United States from 1990 to 1995. From 1995 to 1996, he was a Visiting Professor of International Relations at the University of Kyoto.

ProfessorEdit

He is currently Prime Counsellor for the International Forum for Justice and Peace, a foundation under Dutch law, registered at the Chamber of Commerce in Amsterdam. Chaired by retired international businessman Ben Smoes, they are currently focused on justice and peace in regard to the Israel/Palestine conflict

ActivistEdit

Van Agt lectured in May 2006 in Cairo at the invitation of the Egyptian electronic magazine Arab-West Report about great changes in the cultural climate of north-western Europe in the past decades, becoming more hostile to religion, including Islam. Muslims, he argued, need to understand those changes in order to be able to respond better to European criticism on Islam and the Muslim world.[3]

Van Agt has also spoken against the Council of State in Egypt for continuous delay in granting the Center for Arab-West Understanding (CAWU) the NGO status. He met with prominent figures in Egypt to persuade them to do so. The Egyptian Council of State, after van Agt's visit to Cairo in 2006, ruled on 18 February 2007 that the Center should be recognized as an NGO under Egyptian law, ending its three-year struggle to obtain this status. Egypt is known for its reluctance in granting NGO status in order to discourage political participation. Cornelis Hulsman, a Dutch sociologist, the editor-in-chief of Arab-West Report, and the head of CAWU, stated that van Agt's effort significantly impacted the realization of their goals, which usually requires a lengthy amount of time and scrutiny in its political purposes.

For some years he has taken an outspoken stance regarding the Middle East, resulting in a fierce criticism of the policies undertaken by the government of Israel with regard to the Palestinians. When in office, van Agt was a staunch supporter of Israel, but after he stepped down in 1982 he changed his mind.[4] According to his own words an important turning point was a visit at the late nineties at Bethlehem University on the Israeli-occupied West Bank.[5][6] He has accused Israel of "state terrorism" and turning the Palestinian Authority territories into "bantustans".[7] In 2012, Van Agt said that Jews should have a state in Germany instead of Israel.[8] In September 2016, in reference to the visit of Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netenyahu to the Netherlands, van Agt argued that the ongoing Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and the building of settlements there constituted a war crime under the Rome Statute and suggested that Netenyahu should have been sent to the International Criminal Court.[9] According to former speaker of the House of Representatives, Gerdi Verbeet, Van Agts remarks must be seen in the context of declining capabilities [10]

PersonalEdit

Van Agt is known for his use of archaic language and complicated phrasing, as well as for his love for cycling. He married his wife Eugenie Krekelberg in 1958, and they've had three children and seven grandchildren. In 2012, he joined the Advisory Board of the International Museum for Family History.

DecorationsEdit

HonoursEdit

Honours
Ribbon bar Honour Country Date Comment
  Honorary Medal for Initiative and Ingenuity of the Order of the House of Orange Netherlands 19 September 1974
  Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Orange-Nassau Netherlands 9 December 1982

AwardsEdit

Awards
Ribbon bar Award Country Date
Honorary citizen of Geldrop Netherlands 1988
Honorary citizen of Lille France 1998
Honorary citizen of North Brabant Netherlands 2002
Cannabis Culture Award of the Hash, Marihuana & Hemp Museum Netherlands 12 November 2009

Honorary degreesEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ van in isolation: [vɑn].
  2. ^ (in Dutch) Dries van Agt (1931), Absolutefacts.nl, 10 December 2008
  3. ^ For the full text of his lecture, entitled, "Cultures between Clash and Reconciliation: The Role of the Media and Academia," see AWR, 2006, week 53, art. 3
  4. ^ "Former Dutch PM champions Palestinian cause" Archived 13 December 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Radio Netherlands Worldwide (10 December 2009).
  5. ^ (in Dutch) "De bekering van Dries van Agt" Archived 19 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine, HP|DE TIJD, 29 September 2006
  6. ^ (in Dutch) "Ik kan het wel uitschreeuwen", interview oud-premier Dries van Agt, NRC Handelsblad, 22 August 2009
  7. ^ Cnaan Liphshiz, 'Dutch Jimmy Carter' accuses Israel of terrorism in new book Haaretz (27 June 2008).
  8. ^ Former Dutch PM: Jews should have had a state in Germany, The Times of Israel (11 November 2012).
  9. ^ Cockburn, Harry (6 September 2016). "Former Dutch PM calls Benjamin Netanyahu a 'war criminal' who should be tried in The Hague". independent.co.uk. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  10. ^ Brouwer, Bart. "Gerdi Verbeet: 'Vermogens Van Agt zijn aan het afnemen'", NPO Radio 1, Hilversum, 4 January 2018. Retrieved on 22 July 2019.

External linksEdit

Official
Party political offices
New title Leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal
1976–1982
Succeeded by
Ruud Lubbers
Parliamentary leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal
in the House of Representatives

1977
Succeeded by
Willem Aantjes
Preceded by
Ruud Lubbers
Parliamentary leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal
in the House of Representatives

1981
Succeeded by
Ruud Lubbers
Political offices
Preceded by
Carel Polak
Minister of Justice
1971–1977
Succeeded by
Gaius de Gaay Fortman
Preceded by
Roelof Nelissen
Molly Geertsema
Deputy Prime Minister
1973–1977
Preceded by
Joop den Uyl
Prime Minister of the Netherlands
1977–1982
Succeeded by
Ruud Lubbers
Minister of General Affairs
1977–1982
Preceded by
Max van der Stoel
Minister of Foreign Affairs
1982
Succeeded by
Hans van den Broek
Preceded by
Jan Dirk van der Harten
Queen's Commissioner of North Brabant
1983–1987
Succeeded by
Frank Houben
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Laurens Jan Brinkhorst
Ambassador of the European Union to Japan
1987–1990
Succeeded by
Jean-Pierre Leng
Preceded by
Roy Denman
Ambassador of the European Union
to the United States

1990–1995
Succeeded by
Hugo Paemen
Records
Preceded by
Piet de Jong
Oldest living former Prime Minister
2016–present
Incumbent