Carola Schouten will be the new mayor of Rotterdam, Source: Roel Wijnants on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

After first Muslim mayor, Rotterdam will have first female mayor

After first Muslim mayor, Rotterdam will have first female mayor

She has experience as a minister with different portfolios in the Dutch national government

The Rotterdam City Council has nominated a final candidate to become the new mayor of the city in the fall following a 15-year government of Ahmed Aboutaleb. The name proposed is that of Carola Schouten – a former deputy prime minister of the Netherlands and a long-term resident of the port city.

The outgoing mayor announced earlier this year that he intended to step down and pass the baton to a chosen successor. Aboutaleb made history as the first Muslim and first foreign-born mayor of a major Dutch city. Now his chosen successor is about to make history, too, by becoming the first female mayor of Rotterdam.

Carola Schouten has ample political experience as she’s served as a Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality on behalf of the Christian Union in the Rutte III cabinet from 2017 to 2022, and from 2022 to 2024 she was Minister of Poverty Policy, Participation and Pensions in the Rutte IV cabinet.

Since January, the city council has had plenty of time to develop a profile for the desired new mayor and to question the candidates who applied for the position.

Particularities of choosing a Dutch mayor

Unlike other countries, mayors in the Netherlands are not directly elected by the constituents but are interviewed and selected by the city council. That doesn’t mean that residents had absolutely no say in who should be their next city leader.

In March, all Rotterdammers could indicate via a questionnaire what kind of mayor they wanted to see in Rotterdam. Their answers served as the basis for creating a profile for a desirable mayor.

26 people responded to this vacancy, after which an initial selection was made in an interview with the King's Commissioner. After this, the members of the confidential committee conducted interviews with various candidates in two rounds.

"We were looking for someone who would be open to anyone and who is accessible, stands with people and is someone who Rotterdammers recognise as one of their own. Schouten has a talent for bringing people together, including when there are great tensions in our city,” city councillor Ruud van der Velden told broadcaster NOS.

Carola Schouten still has one more step to go before she is finally confirmed as the new Rotterdam mayor. She will have to meet the King and the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. Following that interview and a security check, she can be sworn in on 10 October.



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