Open main menu

Willem "Wim" Kok (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈʋɪm ˈkɔk] (About this soundlisten); 29 September 1938 – 20 October 2018) was a Dutch politician who served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 22 August 1994 until 22 July 2002.[1][2] He was a member of the Labour Party (PvdA).

Wim Kok
Wim Kok 1994.jpg
Prime Minister of the Netherlands
In office
22 August 1994 – 22 July 2002
MonarchBeatrix
DeputyHans Dijkstal
Annemarie Jorritsma
Preceded byRuud Lubbers
Succeeded byJan Peter Balkenende
Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands
In office
7 November 1989 – 22 August 1994
Prime MinisterRuud Lubbers
Preceded byRudolf de Korte
Succeeded byHans Dijkstal (First Deputy)
Minister of Finance
In office
7 November 1989 – 22 August 1994
Prime MinisterRuud Lubbers
Preceded byOnno Ruding
Succeeded byGerrit Zalm
Leader of the Labour Party
In office
21 July 1986 – 15 December 2001
DeputyWim Meijer
Thijs Wöltgens
Jacques Wallage
Ad Melkert
Preceded byJoop den Uyl
Succeeded byAd Melkert
Leader of the Labour Party in the House of Representatives
In office
19 May 1998 – 30 May 1998
Preceded byJacques Wallage
Succeeded byJacques Wallage
In office
17 May 1994 – 22 August 1994
Preceded byThijs Wöltgens
Succeeded byJacques Wallage
In office
21 July 1986 – 5 November 1989
Preceded byJoop den Uyl
Succeeded byThijs Wöltgens
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
19 May 1998 – 22 August 1998
In office
17 May 1994 – 22 August 1994
In office
3 June 1986 – 7 November 1989
Personal details
Born
Willem Kok

(1938-09-29)29 September 1938
Bergambacht, Netherlands
Died20 October 2018(2018-10-20) (aged 80)
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Political partyLabour Party
Spouse(s)
Rita Roukema (m. 1965)
Children3
EducationNyenrode Business University (BPA)
Signature
Military service
Allegiance Netherlands
Branch/serviceRoyal Netherlands Army
Years of service1958–1959 (Conscription)
1959–1961 (Reserve)
RankNl-landmacht-soldaat der 2e klasse.svg Private first class
Battles/warsCold War

Kok, a trade union leader by profession, worked for the Netherlands Association of Trade Unions from 1961 until 1976, when it merged to form the Federation Netherlands Labour Movement. Kok served as its first chairman from 1976 until 1986 when he left to enter the House of Representatives as a Labour politician. After the general election of 1994 Kok became Prime Minister of the Netherlands, taking office on 22 August 1994. On 15 December 2001 Kok announced his retirement from national politics and stood down as Leader of the Labour Party that same day. He remained Prime Minister of the Netherlands until the First Balkenende cabinet was installed on 22 July 2002, semi-retiring from active politics at the age of 63.[2]

After his premiership, Kok became a lobbyist for the European Union and presided over several "high-level groups". He served various roles on supervisory boards in the worlds of business and industry as well as several international non-governmental organizations.

Kok was known for his abilities as a manager and negotiator. During his premiership, his cabinets were responsible for implementing several social reforms and further reducing the deficit. He held the distinction of leading the first purple coalitions as Prime Minister of the Netherlands. On 11 April 2003, he was granted the honorary title of Minister of State.[3]

Early lifeEdit

Willem Kok was born on 29 September 1938, in Bergambacht in the Netherlands Province of South Holland, the son of Willem Kok (29 March 1910 – 10 January 1981) a carpenter, and Neeltje de Jager (17 October 1913 – 5 May 2005).[4] He had one younger brother, who was born in 1945.[5]

After completing his studies in business at the Nyenrode Business Universiteit, he started his career in 1961 at the socialist Netherlands Association of Trade Unions (NVV), where he was chairman from 1973 until 1982. In 1982, the NVV merged with Nederlands Katholiek Vakverbond (NKV), the Catholic trade union, to form the Federatie Nederlandse Vakbeweging (FNV), of which he served as chair until 1986.[6]

Political careerEdit

Parliamentary leader and Minister of FinanceEdit

 
Trade union leader Wim Kok and Prime Minister Dries van Agt during a meeting of the Social and Economic Council in The Hague on 20 December 1979.
 
Prime Minister Wim Kok and President of Russia Vladimir Putin in Moscow on 19 January 2001.
 
Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Wim Kok in Het Torentje on 4 April 2011.

Kok was elected as a Member of the House of Representatives on 3 June 1986, after the Dutch general election of 1986. Soon after the election Joop den Uyl the Leader of the Labour Party and Parliamentary leader of the Labour Party in the House of Representatives announced that he was stepping down after serving twenty years as Leader of the Labour Party. Kok was elected to succeed him and became Party and Parliamentary leader of the Labour Party in the House of Representatives on 21 July 1986 and served as Opposition leader during the parliamentary period of the Cabinet Lubbers II.[7]

Kok lead his party in the Dutch general election of 1989. The Labour Party lost three seats but the following cabinet formation resulted in a coalition agreement with the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) which formed the Cabinet Lubbers III. Kok entered government for the first time and became both Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands and Minister of Finance, serving from 7 November 1989 until 22 August 1994.[8]

Prime MinisterEdit

First term (1994-1998)Edit

In the 1994 general election, the Labour Party lost twelve seats but the CDA with new leader Elco Brinkman lost twenty seats. The Labour Party became the largest party in the House of Representatives, after an arduous cabinet formation with the conservative liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and the social liberal Democrats 66 (D66) a deal was struck that resulted in the Cabinet Kok I, with Kok as Prime Minister. It was considered groundbreaking in Dutch politics this was the first Cabinet of the Netherlands since 1908 without a Christian democratic party.[7]

The main aim of the Cabinet Kok I was to create employment. The Dutch economy had been in a deep recession for years. The market was allowed more influence in the economy. This led to a policy of tax reduction, economizing, and trying to keep people out of social care by supporting employment; large infrastructure projects were set in motion. Another aim was to put an end to the enormous debt of the Dutch government.[7] The Treaty of Amsterdam was signed during this cabinet. The Srebrenica massacre occurred under the responsibility of this government, which eventually led to the fall of the second Kok cabinet.

In the 1998 general election, the Labour party gained eight seats; the coalition retained its majority, and cabinet formation resulted in a continuation of policies with the Cabinet Kok II.

Second term (1998-2002)Edit

The second cabinet was the successor of the first cabinet was formed from the same coalition of PvdA, VVD and D66. It was also known as the "second purple cabinet" called such because it contained both the social-democratic PvdA (red) and the liberal VVD (blue). The aim of the cabinet was to continue the policy of cabinet Kok I, which was concerned with economizing, tax reduction, and making an end to unemployment. Kok was the prime minister, Annemarie Jorritsma as the deputy prime minister for the VVD, and Els Borst for D66. The cabinet had both left-wing and right-wing political parties as a part of it. There was no strong opposition in the House of Representatives. This did not mean that Kok did not face any problems. In May 1999, D66 stepped out of the coalition when proposed legislation on referenda, entered by this party, was blocked; through negotiations the crisis was solved and the cabinet stayed together. Moreover, allegations of expenses abuse were made against Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations Bram Peper from the time he was mayor of Rotterdam. On 13 March 2000 Peper resigned as minister, according to himself to no longer bring problems to the public government, and to be better able to defend himself.[9] On the other hand, Kok's second term is known for legalizing same-sex marriage and euthanasia.[7]

On 15 December 2001, Kok announced he would retire from national politics after the elections of May 2002. He stood down as Leader of the Labour Party that same day, in favour of Ad Melkert. Unfortunately, Melkert did not appeal to the voter. Moreover, the "polder model" went out of fashion in early 2002, which saw the rise of Pim Fortuyn, a political newcomer.

On 16 April 2002, close to the natural end of term for the cabinet, prime minister Kok wished to resign early after being harshly criticised in a government-commissioned report by the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies regarding the fall of Srebrenica in 1995[10] and the other ministers had no choice but to follow him. The second Kok cabinet remained in place as a caretaker cabinet, which had to cope with the murder of Fortuyn, and the CDA with leader Jan Peter Balkenende winning the elections. The caretaker cabinet stepped down on 22 July 2002, when the Cabinet Balkenende I was installed.[2]

LegacyEdit

Kok was highly praised for his Third Way and polder model philosophies and for the success of leading his Purple Coalitions. During his premiership, his cabinets were responsible for implementing several social reforms, legalizing same-sex marriage and euthanasia,[10] stimulating the economy resulting in more employment and privatization and further reducing the deficit. As a result of this, and because of his skills as manager and negotiator, Kok was praised by his fellow European leaders.[10]

After politicsEdit

After his premiership, Kok retired from active politics at the age of sixty-three and became a lobbyist for the European Union and presided over several "high-level groups". He also occupied numerous seats on supervisory boards in the business and industry world (ING Group, Koninklijke TNT Post, Royal Dutch Shell, KLM, Stork B.V., International Commission on Missing Persons, International Crisis Group, Anne Frank Foundation and served as president of the Club of Madrid from 2009 until December 2013).[11] On 11 April 2003, he was granted the honorary title of Minister of State.[12]

Lisbon StrategyEdit

Between April and November 2004, Kok headed up a review of the Lisbon Strategy and presented a report containing suggestions on how to give new impetus to the Lisbon process.[13] The European Commission used this report to declare that the social and environmental parts are no longer a priority and declared a return to the Lisbon Agenda under economic terms only. Kok lobbied for the Lisbon Strategy of the European Commission and was appointed to the Honorary Board of the European Association of History Educators.[14]

Between 2006 and 2007, Kok served as member of the Amato Group, a group of high-level European politicians unofficially working on rewriting the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe into what became known as the Treaty of Lisbon following its rejection by French and Dutch voters.[15]

PersonalEdit

In 1965, after four years of dating, Kok married Margrietha "Rita" Roukema (born 3 November 1939).[16] He adopted her two children from a previous marriage, daughter Carla (born 1959) and son André (born 1961), who is mentally and physically disabled, and together they had a third child, son Marcel (born 1966).[17]

DeathEdit

Kok died on 20 October 2018 in Amsterdam, aged 80.[18]

DecorationsEdit

Honours
Ribbon bar Honour Country Date Comment
  Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic Spain 19 October 2001 [19]
  Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Orange-Nassau Netherlands 10 December 2002 [20]
  Commander Grand Cross of the Order of the Three Stars Latvia 15 November 2004 [citation needed]
Honorific Titles
Ribbon bar Honour Country Date Comment
  Minister of State Netherlands 11 April 2003 Style of Excellency

Honorary degreesEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ (in Dutch) Wim Kok (1938) Biografie, Absolutefacts.nl, 4 June 2010.
  2. ^ a b c (in Dutch) Wim Kok: bezuiniger tegen wil en dank Archived 2012-10-27 at the Wayback Machine, Elsevier, 29 March 2012.
  3. ^ (in Dutch) Dr. W. Kok, Rijksoverheid, 11 April 2003.
  4. ^ www.online-familieberichten.nl
  5. ^ Willem Kok, Geni.com, 24 February 2015
  6. ^ "ICMP Willem (Wim) Kok, former Prime Minister of The Netherlands". International Commission on Missing Persons. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d Vat, Dan van der (22 October 2018). "Wim Kok obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  8. ^ Corder, Mike (20 October 2018). "Former Dutch PM Wim Kok dies at 80, haunted by Srebrenica". Washington Post.
  9. ^ Interview with Bram Peper in Vrij Nederland, 12 July 2003 (Dutch)
  10. ^ a b c Former Dutch prime minister Wim Kok dies; Euronews; 21 October 2018
  11. ^ (in Dutch) Wim Kok voorzitter Club van Madrid, Telegraaf, November 13, 2009
  12. ^ (in Dutch) Dr. W. Kok Archived 2012-09-15 at the Wayback Machine, Rijksoverheid, 11 April 2003
  13. ^ "Kok review of Lisbon strategy: excellent on diagnosis, weak on remedies". euractiv.com. 3 November 2004.
  14. ^ "Honorary board - EUROCLIO - European Association of History Educators". EUROCLIO - European Association of History Educators. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  15. ^ "The way forward for the European Union" (PDF). Action Committee for European Democracy. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 July 2007. Retrieved 8 July 2007.
  16. ^ Chorus, Jutta (17 April 2004). "Het harnas van Rita Kok". NRC Handelsblad (in Dutch). Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  17. ^ (in Dutch) 'Ik zou graag opa willen worden, dat lijkt me een mooie tijdsbesteding' Archived 2013-12-03 at the Wayback Machine, Opzij.nl, 1 December 1997
  18. ^ "Oud-premier Wim Kok (80) overleden" (in Dutch). NOS.nl. 20 October 2018. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  19. ^ (in Spanish) REAL DECRETO 1143/2001 - Boletín Oficial del Estado
  20. ^ Gedwongen huwelijken, HP De Tijd, 29 January 2010, by Bas Paternotte

External linksEdit

Official
Other
Party political offices
Preceded by
Joop den Uyl
Leader of the Labour Party
1986–2001
Succeeded by
Ad Melkert
Leader of the Labour Party in the House of Representatives
1986–1989
Succeeded by
Thijs Wöltgens
Preceded by
Thijs Wöltgens
Leader of the Labour Party in the House of Representatives
1994
Succeeded by
Jacques Wallage
Preceded by
Jacques Wallage
Leader of the Labour Party in the House of Representatives
1998
Political offices
Preceded by
Rudolf de Korte
Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands
1989–1994
Succeeded by
Hans Dijkstal
as First Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands
Preceded by
Onno Ruding
Minister of Finance
1989–1994
Succeeded by
Gerrit Zalm
Preceded by
Ruud Lubbers
Prime Minister of the Netherlands
1994–2002
Succeeded by
Jan Peter Balkenende
Minister of General Affairs
1994–2002
Preceded by
John Bruton
President of the European Council
1997
Succeeded by
Jean-Claude Juncker
Trade union offices
Preceded by
Heinz Oskar Vetter
President of the European Trade Union Confederation
1979–1982
Succeeded by
Georges Debunne
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Johan Stekelenburg
Chairman of the Anne Frank Foundation
2004–2016
Succeeded by
Ernst Hirsch Ballin
Preceded by
Ricardo Lagos
President of the Club of Madrid
2009–2014
Succeeded by
Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga