New Dutch government sworn in with climate measures as first priority

By Stuti Mishra

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has formed a fourth successive coalition government a record 10 months after elections in the Netherlands, with big promises to reign in the climate crisis.

The new government, a four-party coalition that reached a deal in December, was sworn in on Monday at the grand ballroom of the royal Noordeinde Palace in The Hague – a record 271 days after elections in March.

The four-party government led by Mr Rutte has agreed to invest €35bn ($40bn or £29bn) in the fight against the climate crisis.

The Netherlands faces growing challenges with respect to the crisis because a third of the country lies below sea level and it is heavily reliant on gas.

Mr Rutte, who is now set to become his country’s longest-serving prime minister, introduced his new team one-by-one to the king before they were formally sworn in by agreeing to the oath of office and then posing for a photo.

King Willem-Alexander congratulated the new ministers and wished them “good health and wisdom” in their new jobs.

Mr Rutte, despite also being the longest-serving leader of the European Union after Hungary’s Viktor Orban, has vowed a fresh start and wants to “lay the foundation for the next generation” with climate as the focus.

The €35bn will be spent over the next decade on infrastructure in power, heating and hydrogen.

The government is also considering installing new nuclear power plants in line with the country’s efforts to be climate neutral by 2050.

In addition, the government will get its first climate and energy minister, 34-year-old Rob Jetten.

Another key promise by the new government is to reform the country’s housing sector to tackle chronic shortages in the country.

Meanwhile, rising cases of the Omicron variant also pose a problem for Mr Rutte who has to decide whether the country’s strict restrictions, expiring this week, should be continued or not.

Known as the “teflon” prime minister for his ability to maintain a clean image and stay in power, Mr Rutte’s next government will also have a record number of women ministers, as per the published list of ministers and secretaries of state on Sunday.

An unprecedented 14 of the 29 ministers and secretaries of state will be women, including 10 of the 20 ministers.

Additional reporting by agencies

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