Multiculturalist hardliner to be Amsterdam mayor

24th June 2010, Comments 0 comments


Amsterdam city council has voted for former Integration Minister Eberhard van der Laan to be the new mayor of the Dutch capital.

The mayor-elect can start work as soon as he has been officially appointed by the government. In a closed session on Wednesday evening the local council rejected the recommendations of the mayoral advisory committee, which had put Mr Van der Laan second, preferring former Transport and Economy Minister Annemarie Jorritsma for the job. Mayors in the Netherlands are not elected directly by the population.

Labour Mr Van der Laan said, "I am very happy that the council has entrusted me with this beautiful function", adding that he felt privileged to have been chosen. A Labour party member and a former lawyer, Mr Van der Laan is an experienced Amsterdam politician, having served two terms on the city council himself. The previous mayor, Job Cohen, stepped down earlier this year to take on the leadership of the national Labour party. Amsterdam has been governed by Labour party mayors since 1946.

Tackle violence Local politicians told the press they expect Mr Van der Laan, although a strong advocate of multiculturalism, to take a harder line against divisions in society than his more conciliatory predecessor, Job Cohen. The new mayor will have to tackle increasing violence against gays and Jews, for instance, and is expected to adopt an uncompromising attitude towards law-breakers. Other challenges include the city's response to the economic crisis.

Amsterdam is the Netherlands' financial centre, the country's second seaport after Rotterdam, and has a population of 760,000, including sizeable ethnic minorities of Moroccan, Turkish, Antillean and Surinamese origin.


© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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