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Dutch to get first female finance minister

THE HAGUE (AFP) – Dutch politician Sigrid Kaag (AFP; pic below) said on Friday she is set to be the new finance minister, becoming the first woman to head the treasury in the country that leads Europe’s so-called frugal group.

Kaag’s progressive D66 party has seized the key role in Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s new Cabinet, which is due to be sworn in on January 10, after coming second in elections in March.

The former diplomat, 60, replaces the hardline Wopke Hoekstra as finance minister, whose centre-right Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) party lost ground to come in fourth place in the elections, behind the far-right opposition PVV party.

“We have ambitious plans for the coming period. The Netherlands stands for big choices and big investments, in education, on climate, on a strong Europe,” Kaag said in a statement to the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper.

“The role of finance minister is crucial in the responsible implementation of these plans.”

The job of Dutch finance minister is closely watched in Europe as the Netherlands leads the so-called “frugal four” group that frequently clashes with southern European states over spending.

The group, which also comprises Austria, Denmark and Sweden, has argued for tougher restrictions on Covid recovery spending and also called for rule of law restrictions on funds for some Eastern European states.

Kaag resigned after a brief stint as caretaker foreign minister in September over the government’s handling of the Afghan evacuation crisis after the Taleban took over Kabul.

She was previously minister for foreign trade and development.

Rutte announced earlier this month that he had finally sealed a coalition deal to secure a fourth term in office, with a government involving the same four parties as his previous administration.

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