Jeroen Dijsselbloem was the reluctant architect of austerity policies in the Netherlands as finance minister.
The Hague (AFP) - Outgoing Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Wednesday he is quitting politics after more than a decade, saying he lacked “the firepower” to help boost his struggling Labour party in opposition.
“I am stepping down from Dutch politics,” Dijsselbloem said in a letter to parliament, only two days after revealing that he will also quit as head of the Eurogroup in January.
It had been “an honour” to serve in the Dutch lower house as a member of the Labour PvdA as well as in the cabinet, he wrote.
But he said his party “paid the political price” in the country’s March elections for the austerity measures adopted by the Dutch government after the 2008 financial crisis.
“The Netherlands is doing well again, and we are in the top group in Europe and the eurozone is again a motor for the world economy… I am proud of that,” he said.
But the price was to see Labour’s support crumble in March, when it fell from 38 seats in parliament to just nine, forcing party leaders to vow to stay in opposition this time around.
“My party needs to move ahead and for that it needs new guns. I have now reached the conclusion that for this role, and at this stage, I no longer have the firepower” needed, Dijsselbloem added.
Although his decision weighs “heavily” on him, Dijsselbloem said he would leave politics on October 25, around the time that Prime Minister Mark Rutte is expected to name a new cabinet.
“We will miss you, Jeroen,” said outgoing deputy prime minister Lodewijk Asscher, who is the Labour party leader.
Dijsselbloem’s announcement comes only a day after a new four-party coalition, lead by Rutte’s VVD liberal party, sealed a deal to govern the lowlands country for the coming years.
Dijsselbloem, who has chaired meetings of the eurozone finance ministers since 2013, leaves office just as the eurozone is to set out on major reforms towards better integration in the single currency bloc that nearly imploded during the Greek debt crisis.