Montesquieu Institute: from science to society

Dr. W. (Wim) Kok

foto Dr. W. (Wim) Kok
vergrootglas
Source: Parlement.com.

Former social democratic prime minister of The Netherlands between 1994 to 2002. Wim Kok led a coalition of two political opposites: the social democrats of the PvdA and the liberals of the VVD. Prior to becoming prime minister he was minister for Finance. Considered a competent, sincere politician, capable of forging alliances between political and socio-economic adversaries. During his tenure as prime minister unemployment figures dropped and general income levels rose continually, but his governments were unable to stem growing problems in the sectors of healthcare and education. Internationally lauded as proponent of the "Third Way", striking a balance between right-wing economic and left-wing social policies.

Kok entered politics after he made a career in the labour unions. As chairman of the largest labour union Kok was instrumental in forging a pact between labour unions and employer organisations in 1982.

1.

Personal data

Name and surname

Willem (Wim) Kok

Date of birth

September 29th 1938

Place of birth

Bergambacht (The Netherlands)

Family

  • W. 
    Kok (father, a carpenter)
  • N. 
    de Jager (mother)

M.L. Roukema (spouse)

Three children

Selected honours and distinctions

Knight Great Cross in the Order of Orange-Nassau, December 10th 2000

Minister of State, since April 11th 2003

Order of the Three Stars of Latvia, November 2004

Global Economy Prize, Institut für Weltwirtschaft, University of Kiel, 2005

Medal of gratitude, European Centre for Solidarity, Gdansk (Poland) January 11th 2012

Granted several honorary doctorates

2.

Education

Secondary education

Mulo-b in Schoonhoven

Hbs-b in Gouda to June 1956

Academic

Business Administration at Nijenrode University to July 1958

3.

Political Affiliation

PvdA (Dutch Labour Party)

Party-political functions

  • vice parliamentary group-leader of PvdA in the House of Representatives, May 27th 1986 to July 21st 1986
  • political leader of PvdA, July 21st 1986 to December 15th 2001
  • member of the governing party council of the PvdA, July 1986 to November 1989
  • president of Southern Africa commission, Bureau of the Socialist International
  • vice-president of the Socialist International, June 23rd 1989

4.

Career

  • commercial staff-member at trade-office Sembodja Malaja in Amsterdam, 1959 to 1961
  • assistant international-staff-member at construction Union NVV, 1961 to 1965
  • economic staff-member and boardmember of Construction Union NVV, 1965 to 1967
  • secretary of Construction Union NVV, August 1969 to September 1972
  • vice-chairman of NVV, 1972 to September 20th 1973
  • chairman of NVV, September 20th 1973 to January 1st 1976
  • chairman of FNV (Dutch Federation of Workers Unions), January 1st 1976 to September 11th 1985
  • member of the Dutch House of Representatives from June 3rd 1986 to November 6th 1986
  • parliamentary group-leader of PvdA in the House of Representatives, July 21st 1986 to November 5th 1989
  • minister of Finance and vice-prime Minister, November 7th 1989 to August 22nd 1994
  • parliamentary group-leader of PvdA in the House of Representatives, May 4th 1994 to August 22nd 1994
  • member of the Dutch House of Representatives, May 17th 1994 to August 22nd 1994
  • prime-Minister and minister of General Affairs, August 22nd 1994 to July 22nd 2002
  • temporarily responsible for aid for the Dutch Antilles and Aruba, August 22nd 1994 to August 24 1994
  • parliamentary group-leader of PvdA in the House of Representatives, May 7th 1998 to May 14th 1998
  • member of the Dutch House of Representatives, May 19th 1998 to August 3rd 1998
  • president of various ‘high level groups’, appointed by the European Council and European Commission, 2003 to November 2004 (in the field of expansion of the EU and growth of employment)

5.

Selection of additional functions

Current

  • board member of ICMP (International Commission for Missing Persons in former Yugoslavia) since 2002
  • chairman "Madrid Club" (think tank comprised of former government leaders)

Past

  • member and vice-president of SER (Social-Economic Council), 1972 to 1986
  • a great many functions related to his tenure as union president
  • member of the board of commissioners for ING Bank, KLM, TPG Post (renamed TNT), Shell, Stork
  • member of the board of trustees for various foundations and organisations

6.

Selected political achievements

  • As union president Kok was a key figure in negotiating the 'akkoord van Wassenaar', a landmark deal between the union and employers (no rise in wages in return for a pledge to create jobs)
  • As minister of Finance he contributed greatly to efforts curbing a further rise of further government deficit in 1990/91
  • As minister of Finance and as leader of the social democrats he managed to garner support for reform of the WAO (the disablement insurance act). At a congress for the members pf the party especially convened to debate the issue Kok demanded a vote of confidence.
  • the coalition governments Koik led pushed through important legislation on immaterial affairs such as gay-marriage, the liberalization of euthanasia etc.
  • Holding the EU presidency at the time, Kok played an important role in negotiating the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1997
  • resigned as prime minister in 2002 after the inquiry on the role of the Dutch government in the inability to prevent the Sebrenica massacre of 1993 was published
  • considered one of the key figures in advocating what was later dubbed "The Third Way" (the term refers to a reconcilation and synthesis between right-wing economic and left-wing social policies). Referred to as example by both Tony Blair and Bill Clinton
  • Presented several reports to the European Commission in 2003 and 2004 (chairing the "high level group for the Lisbon Strategy" and a taskforce on Employment). These reports are "the Expansion of the European Union", "Jobs, jobs, jobs. Creating more employment in Europe" and "Facing the Challenge"