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Former head of Dutch intelligence set to become new prime minister


Former Dutch intelligence chief Dick Schoof looks on at a press conference as he is presented as the proposed prime minister of the Netherlands, in The Hague, Netherlands, May 28, 2024.
Former Dutch intelligence chief Dick Schoof looks on at a press conference as he is presented as the proposed prime minister of the Netherlands, in The Hague, Netherlands, May 28, 2024.

The former head of Dutch intelligence and immigration services is perched to be the right-wing coalition candidate for the Netherlands' new prime minister, replacing outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Dick Schoof, 67, has the backing of a four-party coalition that includes Geert Wilders' hard right Party for Freedom. Schoof is currently the top civil servant at the Ministry of Security and Justice.

The announcement Tuesday came after almost six months of debate.

The controversial Wilders, widely known for his anti-Islam and anti-European views, decided not to seek the prime minister's seat to instead allow the coalition's lead to be taken by Schoof, who has years of experience as a public servant.

Schoof has served as the Netherlands' counterterrorism chief. He was formerly with the Labor Party and is not currently affiliated with any party. "I am going to be the prime minister. I am without a party,'' Schoof said.

''I don't see myself kowtowing to Mr. Wilders," Schoof told journalists. "My plans for the Netherlands are those agreed upon by the coalition leaders."

Schoof told reporters Tuesday that he will be focused on "getting a grip on migration and asylum, giving people, including farmers, security of living, and looking at international safety."

He must now cobble together a government with the four parties: the liberal Party of Freedom and Democracy, the New Social Contract party, the Citizen-Farmer Movement and Wilders' Party for Freedom.

The coalition partners have the majority of the seats in the lower house of parliament.

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