Uri Rosenthal, VVD foreign minister in the Rutte 1 government from 2010 to 2012, also emphasizes the idealistic aspect: “You have the power to change something. But it’s not like you’re at the touch of a button.” According to him, some ministers misunderstand this. “Successful politicians who dance at the table should not be taken as a starting point. You see enough jobs that end in tears.” Unlike Van Eijck, Rosenthal already had political experience. He was at first a member and then leader of the VVD party in the Senate, but he was also active in science and business.
If you come from outside politics, you have to take into account the unique norms of politics, among other things. Being in charge means something completely different as a minister than being the director of a hospital, for example. Rosenthal says you’re more responsible for what other people do: “If others like government officials do something wrong, it could kill you.”
You have to be able to deal with that, he explains: “It is no longer the same in the academic world that the most convincing arguments win. For the scientist, the brilliance of the creative mind is important, for a minister, the majority of the votes.” Being right does not mean being right.
Press and social media pressure
Then there is also pressure from outside, from the media for example: “As a member of the government, you can put a microphone under your nose at any time and you are expected to have an answer ready. Even if you already have media experience, that is different. If you are a scientist You can choose whether you want to appear in the media.”
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