Amsterdam gets first female mayor
The new mayor succeeds Eberhard van der Laan, who served as mayor of Amsterdam from 2010 until he passed away in October 2017. Mayor Halsema has held several positions in public administration and was a chairperson in the Dutch House of Representatives and political leader of GroenLinks (the Dutch Green party). Since her departure from political life she has worked as a director for businesses in the semi-public and cultural sectors, published her political memoirs ‘Pluche’, and produced the theatre lecture ‘A Free Country’ about the Dutch identity.In her inaugural speech she acknowledged Amsterdam's rapid growth. By 2025, the city's population will have increased by 70,000, with 29 million tourists expected to visit the city in that year, she said. The city will undergo a vast expansion, including the development of new neighbourhoods and roads, she added.
“As the city grows, it is changing. Our ‘international village’, as we often describe Amsterdam, is gradually becoming a metropolis. Change is in Amsterdam’s nature. Our city has always moved with the times, made room for new groups of people, and absorbed social change and cultural innovation, and has always embraced new technology – once the printing press, today information and data technology.
“At the same time, this growth spurt may produce growing pains, put our relationships under pressure, and affect the essence of our city. The essence of Amsterdam is the promise of freedom. The promise that here in Amsterdam you can pursue happiness and take your destiny in your own hands. As your mayor, I see defending freedom – helping to fulfil that promise for every Amsterdammer – as my first and greatest responsibility.”
During her tenure, she also aims to focus on combatting crime, addressing the concerns of Amsterdammers living in less prosperous area who often feel ignored, and protecting minorities against abuse and unfair treatment.