Amsterdam council member tipped as next Dutch social affairs minister
NETHERLANDS – Lodewijk Asscher, alderman on Amsterdam's city council, is the hot favourite to become the next social affairs minister in the Netherlands as part of a governmental reshuffle following the elections in September.
Henk Kamp – who has been at the helm of the social affairs department for two years after succeeding Piet Hein Donner – is widely expected to be transferred to the ministry of economic affairs and agriculture.
Asscher is a member of the Labour Party (PvdA), while Kamp is a representative of the liberal party VVD.
Both parties have formed a government coalition, representing 79 of the 150 seats in the Lower House.
Asscher has been Amsterdam's deputy mayor and alderman for finance, education, youth policy and public safety since 2006.
Before then, he was a lecturer and researcher of communication rights at Amsterdam University.
MP Pieter Omtzigt, pensions spokesman for the Christian Democrats (CDA), described Asscher as a "political heavyweight".
The fact Asscher had been widely tipped as Kamp's successor also showed that the social affairs ministry was important to the PvdA, he said.
"However," he added, "it's a pity the new minister will come in midway through the updating of the pensions system. He won't be having much time, as the new Pensions Act is scheduled to come into force from 1 January 2014."
But Omtzigt argued that the new minister still might be able to have an impact on the outcome of the new system, as the new coalition has yet to publish its governing agreement, which is likely to contain a new pensions policy.