On to NATO? Mark Rutte suddenly seems to be considering a new political career | Abroad

The Netherlands should not be surprised if Mark Rutte does not stand in front of the classroom after all. Although he always said he would become a teacher after his premiership, he now does not rule out “something international”.

Should I once again risk my talent for something international?

Mark Rutte

What if he is no longer the Prime Minister of the Netherlands? Mark Rutte was always adamant about it: “Then I will teach,” he said last year. “I think I’m going to do that for a while, I really enjoy it. You have to do things in life that you don’t think about in the evening: was it useful? In politics there is sometimes a day where you think in the evening: was this all useful? A teacher never has to ask himself that question.”

That certainty has disappeared. Rutte suddenly does not rule out that he will continue to do “something” in politics. On Budget Day he already had doubts out loud, wrote our colleagues from the ‘Algemeen Dagblad’. And during a UN summit in New York he went one step further to ‘De Telegraaf’: “I have a voice somewhere in the back of my mind that says: should I once again risk my talent for something international? My hesitation is whether it doesn’t mean you just give speeches. But I don’t rule it out 100 percent.”


Rutte’s name has been buzzing around Brussels for some time as a possible new Secretary General of NATO, or as President of the European Commission. Posts that the Dutchman always categorically rejected when asked about them. For several reasons: for example, he did not want to leave his beloved The Hague. And as Prime Minister he could always get involved in everything, while with such a position you are less able to do that and also have to hold endless meetings.

Outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte with current NATO boss Jens Stoltenberg at the NATO summit in Vilnius last summer.
Outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte with current NATO boss Jens Stoltenberg at the NATO summit in Vilnius last summer. © AFP


Rutte has been teaching social studies a few hours a week for years at a secondary school in The Hague, the Johan de Witt school group. Despite his busy schedule, he hardly misses Thursday mornings. He had already figured out what papers he needed to get to get started as a lateral entrant, he said.

Maybe that education is against him or that he can’t do without politics? It is anyone’s guess what is going on in Rutte’s head. Also for the people who say they know him well. Although everyone can see that he still really enjoys his current job as outgoing Prime Minister. But after thirteen years as premier and an increasingly prominent role on the international stage, the end is now approaching.

LOOK. Mark Rutte announces his retirement from politics: “This decision is accompanied by many emotions”

Correct papers

If anyone knows whether leading NATO would be a job that Rutte might enjoy, it is Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, himself head of the alliance from 2004 to 2009. Speculation about a possible candidacy of Rutte as secretary general is Not De Hoop Scheffer. “Rutte himself always said ‘no’,” it sounds. But does Rutte have the right papers? Yes, that is true: “Rutte has built up a lot of authority abroad in recent years.”

Rutte will just have to deal with the endless meetings and speeches. De Hoop Scheffer: “As Secretary General you are the oil man who has to massage away political differences between NATO countries and with partner countries. That requires a lot of traveling and consultation. And meet every week. And as Secretary General you are also the public face of the organization. You have to make a lot of speeches at universities and in national parliaments.”

Rutte with current Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Rutte with current Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. © EPA

The term of current NATO boss Jens Stoltenberg expires in October 2024. The search for a successor previously came to nothing.

European Commission

The position of European President will also become available next year, after the European elections in June. However, as a man from a liberal party, Rutte has little chance of getting that post. The chairman of the committee is elected by the majority of the new European Parliament and each group votes for someone from its own political family (the so-called Spitzencandidate). The liberals will then in any case lose out to the Christian Democrats or the Social Democrats.

Rutte himself says he has never been asked about anything. “Very sad,” he laughs. To add that he will only really think about his future when his premiership is formally over: “There is nothing concrete going on now,” it sounds. But also: “You only live once. You should always try to find places to make a positive contribution. As a teacher you do that. And you can also do that in politics.” An answer that he can go in any direction with if he is unexpectedly asked.

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