But the most powerful political office in a Dutch city — as in most European cities — is the mayor. He does not gain his office by direct election, but is appointed by the local ruling party. In the case of Rotterdam it’s the PvdA (Socialists again), who have just announced that the next mayor of the city will be a Muslim.
The PvdA says the appointment of Ahmed Aboutaleb as mayor is part of a “tradition of anti-polarisation”, but those of a more dyspeptic disposition might consider it part of the creeping Islamization of the Netherlands.
According to NIS:
Muslim Aboutaleb to be Mayor of Rotterdam- - - - - - - - -
ROTTERDAM, 17/10/08 — Rotterdam is getting a Muslim as mayor. Social Affairs State Secretary Ahmed Aboutaleb will succeed Ivo Opstelten in the Netherlands’ second-largest city.
Aboutaleb is a member of Labour (PvdA). The PvdA-dominated local council of Rotterdam nominated him yesterday. Home Affairs Minister Guusje ter Horst has yet to appoint him but her approval is a mere formality.
Aboutaleb, like all Moroccan immigrants in the Netherlands. has both Dutch and Moroccan nationality. He combines his Muslim faith with a political style that is typically Dutch: consensus and dialogue are paramount.
Some Muslims consider him too ‘white,’ some ‘whites’ find him too soft. In reality, Aboutaleb is in the Labour (PvdA) tradition of anti-polarisation.
Aboutaleb was born in Beni Sidel, Morocco on 29 August 1961. His father was an Imam. He came to the Netherlands aged 16.
Aboutaleb’s election is in two ways remarkable. Of course his Islamic faith makes the appointment unique. But also, a tradition has been broken of the established parties each claiming certain cities.
It is a public secret that the procedure of electing mayors, at least in the big cities, has been a closed circuit of agreements between the established parties. According to this logic, Gerd Leers should have emerged the winner. That is because he is a member of the Christian democrats (CDA) and the CDA was going to claim Rotterdam.
Rotterdam had to go to the CDA, because The Hague went earlier to the VVD. In the third-largest city, Jozias van Aartsen (VVD) recently took over the chain of office from CDA Mayor Wim Deetman. Insiders were convinced that CDA and VVD had swapped Rotterdam and The Hague.
Amsterdam and Utrecht, the biggest and fourth city respectively, already belong to the PvdA. Now that party, struggling in the polls, will be holding the mayoral position in three of the ‘big four’ cities.
The choice for PvdA’s Aboutaleb might have been pushed by a poll conducted recently by Algemeen Dagblad. The newspaper reported Rotterdammers wanted State Secretary Nebahat Albayrak as their mayor. She was not a candidate, but like Aboutaleb, she is a Muslim, a faith that many Rotterdammers share with her.
So it was the CDA’s turn to get Rotterdam, but the Muslims are so numerous in the city that their opinion outweighed an age-old corrupt political tradition.
Actually, I’ve changed my mind: “creeping” is not the right word to use in conjunction with the Islamization of the Netherlands. The process is up to a brisk walk now, and “galloping” will become the preferred descriptive before this decade is through.
Hat tip: TB.