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Former intelligence chief Dick Schoof proposed as Dutch PM


By Stephanie van den Berg and Bart H. Meijer

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Former Dutch intelligence chief and political outsider Dick Schoof said on Tuesday he will uphold the rule of law and govern for all after being proposed as prime minister of the incoming right-wing cabinet.

He said he had been asked by the four parties that will form the new government to lead it – not only by Geert Wilders’ nationalist PVV, the clear winner of the Nov. 22 election.

“I am not affiliated to any party, I am not standing here in the name of the PVV… I want to be the prime minister of all the Dutch,” Schoof, who has had no previous experience in parliament or in government, told reporters.

Election winner Wilders this month reached an agreement on forming the government with three other conservative parties, after ruling himself out of the top job.

Schoof, 67, is currently the senior official at the Dutch ministry of justice, after having led the intelligence agency AIVD and anti-terrorism agency NCTV for years. He was the head of the Dutch immigration service in the early 2000s.

“I guess it will be a surprise for a lot of people that I’m standing here… It’s actually also a surprise for me,” he told reporters.

In its governing plan published on May 16, the coalition said it would aim for the “strictest-ever asylum regime” with stronger border controls and harsher rules for asylum seekers, setting up a potential clash with the EU before even taking office.

Schoof will head a cabinet that the four parties have said would have looser ties to parliament. It could take weeks to put together, with the parties all negotiating over the portfolios and responsibilities.

Once he has formed a government, set to be the most right-wing in the Netherlands in decades, he will be sworn in by the king and officially become prime minister.

“Congratulations Dick. Dick Schoof has a great track record, is not a member of any party and thus stands above the parties, is honest and, on top of it, very friendly,” Wilders reacted on social media X.

That government will, however, have to stick to the agreement reached by the four parties, which is aiming to secure exceptions on EU asylum and environmental rules.

“I think that, in all my positions, the common thread has always been the functioning of democratic rule of law and that will help me in my function as prime minister,” Schoof said, adding that outgoing prime minister Mark Rutte is for him “a form of inspiration in the way he handles things”.

Far-right leader Wilders last week said he expected the new government to be operational by end-June.

Besides his experience at the intelligence and anti-terrorism services, Schoof has also worked on reforming the police force.

Having worked mostly on domestic policies, Schoof, a divorced father of two, does not have a high international profile.

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