Dutch pensions minister Carola Schouten will leave politics after a new government is in place following parliamentary elections scheduled for 22 November.

Schouten announced that she would leave national politics “after 12 intense years” on the website of her political party ChristenUnie.

The single mother did not provide a specific reason for her decision, which comes just days after the Dutch government unexpectedly fell following a dispute about the country’s asylum seeker policy.

In January 2022, Schouten took over as pensions minister from Wouter Koolmees who had decided to leave politics after the fall of the previous Dutch government in 2021.

Schouten can be credited as the minister who successfully steered the largest-ever reform of the Dutch pension system through the Dutch parliament amid stiff opposition resistance, even though the draft law had already been written up at the time of her appointment.

In order to secure majority support for the law in the Senate, she agreed to some minor changes to it, however. 

Schouten joined the Dutch parliament for the ChristenUnie party in 2011, after having worked as policy adviser at the Ministry of Social Affairs in The Hague, which is responsible for all matters pertaining to social security including pensions.

Between 2011, when she entered parliament, and in 2017 she was the pensions specialist for ChristenUnie, a political party that combines conservative views on issues such as abortion, drugs and marriage with more ‘leftist’ views on social-economic topics such as taxation and immigration.

The daughter of a dairy farmer, Schouten then entered government in 2017 as agriculture minister. Since 2022, she has been pensions minister as well as vice premier as ChristenUnie’s most senior government minister.

It is not clear where Schouten will head next. She has not given any interviews since her public announcement, and on ChristenUnie’s website she is just quoted as saying she will leave The Hague and “is curious about what the future will bring.”

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