Ad Melkert

His Excellency
Ad Melkert

Ad Melkert in 2002
Member of the Council of State of the Netherlands
Assumed office
20 January 2016
Monarch Willem-Alexander
Special Representative for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq
In office
7 July 2009  1 October 2011
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Preceded by Staffan de Mistura
Succeeded by Martin Kobler
Associate Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme
In office
1 March 2006  7 July 2009
Administrator Kemal Derviş (2006–2006)
Helen Clark (2009)
Preceded by Zéphirin Diabré
Succeeded by Rebeca Grynspan
Parliamentary leader of the Labour Party in the House of Representatives of the Netherlands
In office
10 July 1998  16 May 2002
Preceded by Jacques Wallage
Succeeded by Jeltje van Nieuwenhoven
Leader of the Labour Party
In office
15 December 2001  16 May 2002
Preceded by Wim Kok
Succeeded by Wouter Bos
Minister of Social Affairs and Employment of the Netherlands
In office
22 August 1994  3 August 1998
Prime Minister Wim Kok
Preceded by Bert de Vries
Succeeded by Klaas de Vries
Member of the House of Representatives of the Netherlands
In office
19 May 1998  17 October 2002
In office
3 June 1986  22 Augustus 1994
Personal details
Born Adrianus Petrus Wilhelmus Melkert
(1956-02-12) 12 February 1956
Gouda, Netherlands
Nationality Dutch
Political party Labour Party (from 1982)
Other political
Political Party of Radicals
Spouse(s) Mónica León Borquez (m. 1986; div. 2013)
Children 2 daughters
Residence The Hague, Netherlands
Alma mater University of Amsterdam (Bachelor of Social Science, Master of Social Science)
Occupation Politician
Civil servant
Corporate director
Nonprofit director
Religion Roman Catholicism (until 1976)

Adrianus Petrus Wilhelmus "Ad" Melkert (Dutch: [ˈɑt ˈmɛlkərt]; born 12 February 1956) is a Dutch politician and diplomat of the Labour Party (PvdA). He served as a Member of the House of Representatives from 3 June 1986 until 22 August 1994 when he became Minister of Social Affairs and Employment in the Cabinet Kok I following the Dutch general election of 1994. At the end of the parliamentary period, he was not included in the Cabinet Kok II after the Dutch general election of 1998 by his own request, as he wanted to focus his energies on his candidacy to succeed Wim Kok as the next Party leader of the Labour Party. Melkert returned to the Member of the House of Representatives on 13 July 1998 and became the Parliamentary leader of the Labour Party in the House of Representatives on 13 July 1998 and became the presumed de facto next Party leader of the Labour Party in all but name. He was elected the official Party leader of the Labour Party on 15 December 2001 and became the lijsttrekker (top candidate) for the Dutch general election of 2002.

Melkert and Hans Dijkstal were the front runners to become the next Prime Minister in the early stages of the campaign, but the unexpected arrival of Pim Fortuyn of Livable Netherlands (LN) and later the Pim Fortuyn List (LPF), turned the polls. Fortuyn blamed the problems in the country on the Purple cabinets (in which both Melkert and Dijkstal served as ministers) and depicted Melkert and Dijkstal as two bureaucrats who were out of touch with the voter's concerns. During the election Fortuyn accused Melkert of the demonization of his character and personal integrity. After a heated campaign Fortuyn was assassinated in Hilversum a mere nine days before polling day. The Labour Party suffered a landslide defeat in the election, losing 23 seats, Melkert was blamed for the defeat primary because of his technocratic leadership in contrast to the more charismatic Fortuyn. After Fortuyn's assassination Melkert received death threats and sequentially left national politics. He resigned as Party leader of the Labour Party and Parliamentary leader of the Labour Party in the House of Representatives on 16 May 2002 and gave up his seat in the House of Representatives on 17 October 2002.

Following his career in Dutch politics, he worked at the World Bank and the United Nations.


Early life

Adrianus Petrus Wilhelmus Melkert was born into a Roman Catholic middle-class family in Gouderak, a small village situated in the province of South Holland. His father was a barber. Melkert attended a Roman Catholic primary school in Moordrecht until 1968, after which he continued his studies at the Coornhert Gymnasium in Gouda, a state school specialising in the arts. In the final year of his secondary education, he worked for a greengrocer at the local market. Melkert graduated in 1974 and went on to study political science at the University of Amsterdam. During this period he became active within the radical left-wing Christian Political Party of Radicals (PPR) party, and served as a member of the board of the youth organisation of the PPR between 1978 and 1980. He went on to become a member of the general board of the Dutch branch of the European Movement, the chairperson of the Council of European National Youth Committees and the chairperson of the Dutch Platform for International Youth Work. In 1979 he was elected into the party board of the PPR, and was 3rd candidate on the PPR's list for the 1979 European Parliament elections. He graduated in 1981 and received the Dutch Society for International Relations prize for best Master's thesis of 1981, the subject of which dealt with the foreign policy of the Den Uyl cabinet.

In 1981 he became general secretary of the youth forum of the European Community in Brussels. In this capacity he attended an illegal youth conference in Chile, then ruled by Pinochet. Meanwhile, tensions within the PPR had escalated. Melkert was a member of the so-called, 'Blues' or 'Godebald' group of radicals, which favoured closer cooperation with the social-democrat Labour Party (PvdA) and the social-liberal Democrats 66 (D66) party. The conflict came to an end in 1981. The 'Reds', who favoured closer cooperation with the left-wing socialist Pacifist Socialist Party (PSP) party and the communist Communist Party of the Netherlands (CPN) party, and the 'Greens', who favoured an independent Green Party, joined forces. Many 'Blues', including Melkert, left the PPR for the PvdA. In 1984 he became director of international affairs at Oxfam Novib, the Dutch branch of Oxfam, and moved to The Hague. He also became a member of the board of the local PvdA branch. In 1986 he published a book on international development in the Netherlands titled: The Next Minister: Development Cooperation with the Cabinet, 1965 – 19?


In 1996 Ad Melkert was elected into the House of Representatives. In the early years he was the party's spokesperson on foreign affairs, development cooperation and environmental affairs.

After the 1989 elections he took the post of financial spokesperson of the PvdA, becoming the party's primary spokesperson in the debates on the national budget. Between 1990 and 1994 he was vice-chairman of the parliament's committee on finance.

As an MP, Melkert also participated in several boards of civil society organisations. He was a member of the board of advisors of the Foundation for Communication on Development Cooperation, chairman of the Foundation for Development Cooperation Almere-Port Sudan, and vice-chairman of the Atlantic Committee. Furthermore, he had a column in the local newspaper, Gooi- en Eemlander, which covered Hilversum and the Almere region.

In 1994 Melkert became the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment in the first cabinet of prime minister, Wim Kok. He held responsibility for one of its main goals, which, in the words of those who shaped the cabinet was: Employment, Employment, Employment. As minister, Melkert was known for his work ethic. Each Friday he would fill a postman's cart, which he had bought specifically for that purpose, with dossiers. Upon his return to work the following Monday all the dossiers would have been read. His work ethic was also noticeable in the vast amount of policies and laws he initiated during his tenure as minister.

As minister of Social Affairs he often came into conflict with the VVD's (People's Party for Freedom and Democracy) Minister of Finance, Gerrit Zalm.

Following the 1998 general elections in which Melkert was the PvdA's fifth ranking candidate, he became leader of the PvdA in parliament. He also served as chair of the parliament's committee on Information and Security Services. During his period as chairman, the party discipline tightened. The PvdA's image appeared arrogant. A conflict situation between Melkert and Rob van Gijzel, a popular PvdA MP, regarding the post of spokesperson on fraud in the construction sector, resulted in Van Gijzel leaving parliament. Despite concerns regarding Melkert's policy of marginalising and isolating the Socialist Party, he was seen as a competent politician, and was designated to succeed prime minister, Wim Kok, who officially retired as leader of the PvdA in 2001.

Elections of 2002

Melkert became the PvdA's top candidate for the 2002 elections. It was widely anticipated that either he or the leader of the VVD, Hans Dijkstal, would become the next prime minister, and that the elections would revolve around the question as to whether the conservative liberal VVD or the PvdA would become the largest party.

However, the elections took an unexpected turn when Pim Fortuyn, a flamboyant populist, entered the political arena. Focusing his campaign on issues of immigration, integration and the state of the public sector, Fortuyn was intent on exposing the PvdA as being responsible for what he termed, Eight years of Purple ruin – referring to the red and blue combination of the social and liberal coalition that had governed the Netherlands during the preceding eight years. In several television debates between Melkert and Fortuyn it became apparent that Melkert was no match for Fortuyn's rather unconventional, though highly charismatic debating style. In the now infamous debate on the night when the results of the 2002 municipal elections were telecast, Fortuyn, having just won the elections in Rotterdam, made a lively, enthusiastic impression, rarely missing an opportunity to mock his opponent who appeared to sit with a degree of discomfort. The incompatibility of the two men dominated the rest of the election campaign. In a one-on-one debate during the programme, Network, their vastly different styles were once again highlighted. To every question posed by the host, Melkert responded with a detailed course of action. With regard to Fortuyn's plans, Melkert demanded 'footnotes!', implying that his opponent's contribution was unrealistic and devoid of detail. There were those who perceived this as arrogance on his part.

Special Representative of the United Nations Ad Melkert with Vice President of the United States Joe Biden on 5 January 2010.

Steps were taken to redress the possibility of a negative, bureaucratic image and it was revealed that Melkert was an avid follower of Feyenoord football club and enjoyed culinary pursuits: a cookbook was published on his personal website. In May 2006 Melkert revealed to politician-turned-television personality, Paul Rosenmöller, that perhaps by being too entrenched in the confines of the governmental tower, his demeanour had come across as somewhat patronising: something that did not appeal to the voter.

On 6 May 2002, nine days before the election Pim Fortuyn was assassinated by a 32-year-old environmental activist. A few relatively minor riots erupted in The Hague where Melkert was at the time, urging him to make a quick departure from the city. After receiving death threats, including a loaded gun in the mail, he and his family temporarily went into hiding.

Melkert's PvdA lost nearly half its seats, decreasing from 45 to 23 in the 150 seat House of Representatives. The party fell from 1st to 4th place. Ad Melkert resigned as political leader on election night and was replaced by former speaker of the House of Representatives, Jeltje van Nieuwenhoven. Melkert remained in parliament for a short time afterwards. His last major parliamentary debate was on the state of the European Union.

World Bank and the United Nations

In November, 2002 Melkert was appointed executive director of the World Bank. In April 2005 he was a serious candidate for the post of Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It went, however, to the Turkish economist and politician, Kemel Dervis. In January 2006 Melkert was appointed Associate Administrator of the UNDP. In 2009 Ad Melkert was appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in Iraq. He was a candidate to succeed Juan Somavía as Director-General of the International Labour Organization but lost to Guy Ryder.[1]



  1. (Dutch) Melkert geen topman bij ILO, NOS, May 28, 2012

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ad Melkert.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jacques Wallage
Parliamentary leader of the Labour Party
in the House of Representatives of the Netherlands

Succeeded by
Jeltje van Nieuwenhoven
Preceded by
Wim Kok
Leader of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Wouter Bos
Government offices
Preceded by
Bert de Vries
Minister of Social Affairs and Employment of the Netherlands
Succeeded by
Klaas de Vries
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Zéphirin Diabré
Associate Administrator of the
United Nations Development Programme

Succeeded by
Rebeca Grynspan
Preceded by
Staffan de Mistura
Special Representative for the
United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq

Succeeded by
Martin Kobler
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/5/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.