Dutch Affairs / English / Thoughts

Rotterdam has a new Mayor

Ahmed Aboutaleb has been chosen to be the new Mayor of Rotterdam (second Dutch city after Amsterdam). He would be the first Dutch Mayor of Moroccan native . Aboutaleb imigrated with his parents to the Netherlands when he was 15 years old. Till the end of this year, his occupation is Secretary of Social Affairs & Employment (since 2006), before that Aboutaleb was a succesful alderman of Social Affairs in Amsterdam.


Erasmus Bridge, Rotterdam

His appointment in Rotterdam caused such reactions, especially from the right wing. The second political party of the city, Leefbaar Rotterdam, objected this due to double nationalities Aboutaleb has. Another important details are Aboutaleb was an Alderman of Amsterdam and he still holds season membership of FC Ajax Amsterdam. 

For you who are wondering, what do these things have to do with being Rotterdam Mayor? These are big issues indeed. Amsterdam and Rotterdam are two competitive cities. While Amsterdam is very proud of the old canals, Rotterdam is very fond of its Skyline, built with Marshall Plan after the second World War. In Amsterdam you find historical buildings, but Rotterdam has the Europoort (Rotterdam’s Haven). This competitiveness comes very clearly to the surface when the Football Clubs Ajax Amsterdam and Feyenoord Rotterdam meet.

As a foreigner living here, it is fine for me that Mr. Aboutaleb would be the Rotterdam Mayor. This country has citizens from different backgrounds & cultures. The Moroccan Mayor of Rotterdam would be a reflection of a term the Dutch love to use: Multicultural Environment.


10 thoughts on “Rotterdam has a new Mayor

  1. Congratz to Mr Ahmed Aboutaleb, taruhan pasti harusnya namanya Ahmad Abuthalib, klo betawi Amat Abutolib (hehehe…)

  2. Aboutaleb’s nomination (which still has to be conformed by the government and the head of state) is good news. First of all because he has all the qualities one needs to become a successful administrator. Secondly because his nomination maybe the first signal that we are leaving the worst of xenophobia behind us.

    The objections you mentioned do exist. But are shared only by a small minority ( even some members of the extreme populist Leefbaar Rotterdam party do welcome Aboutaleb’s mayorship). Their objections fortunately are either folkloristic ( Ajax – Feyenoord), getting behind the times (Aboutaleb belongs to a community which is frowned upon) or sterile and formal ( double passports).

  3. And they say that the western world is as discriminative to muslims as indonesian muslims are to their minorities.

    The day I see a christian indonesian of chinese descent for mayor or governor in Aceh is the day I’m gonna eat my hat and admit that I was wrong about the Indonesian majority.

    This is a good thing, it shows that western countries are willing to appoint members of the minority groups as a leader, provided that the appointed is capable to do good and fair work.

  4. @ Gaty, iya, beda ejaan aja.

    @ The Writer, lucu tuh, Coblos bang Tolib, anak Betawi dari Pasar Senen.

    @ Colson, you’re right, this is still a nomination but the Counsel of Rotterdam was agreed to choose him to follow Opstelten as the new Mayor. According to the last news, even the Leefbaar Rotterdam has accepted this nomination. It would be strange if this nomination would not be honored by the state.

    I find the objections, how small they are, also worth to report here. Just to illustrate how the Democracy process applies on this matter. Another reason is because Aboutaleb would be the first Dutch Mayor with non Dutch origine.

    @ Rima, The day I see a christian indonesian of chinese descent for mayor or governor in Aceh is the day I’m gonna eat my hat and admit that I was wrong about the Indonesian majority.

    During my junior High School Benny Moerdani was at that time General and there were rumors that he would be running for president. Most of my schoolmates said it was impossible because….he was a Christian. I was very offended being a minority Christian myself. At that time I was just a naive, 14 years old kid who thought that Pancasila applied on everything. Now I know better. Let’s hope things would change eventually in our beloved native country.

    @ Santi, Don’t know if Wilders would profit from this. I’ll keep you posted on this. What I know is Wilders’ party has a narrow programme (xenophobic). I even haven’t heard what The Man finds about the economy crisis. I’m rambling right now, weet je ;-D….

  5. I saw the news of him on TV few days ago and the only thing i understand from this issue was merely the fact that he is morrocan. Haha. Well my dutch is not that good so thanks that you make it more clear to me :p

    @the writer,
    did you changed your blog url? oh dear i was looking for your blog this few weeks 😦

  6. @ Chris, you understood the most important point in this issue, the fact that he is Morrocan. Glad I could help you understand more.

  7. As a Rotterdammer, I am supporting Aboutaleb despite of his dual nationalities. Dutch should learn that we are now entering a multinational state era. I hope Aboutaleb can fulfill the mandate well. It will be though for him since his predecessor, Ivo Opstelten, did good job in improving Rotterdam in many ways – which is not surprising since Ivo has many experience as major before becaming Rotterdam major. Meanwhile, Aboutaleb has no experience at all as a city major. That is the only thing I am worry about him..well, just wait and see…

    BTW, I can understand why Rotterdam and Amsterdam always compete to each other….it’s just hard to like Amsterdam after living in Rotterdam for a while..these cities are totally opposite! hahaha…

  8. Indah,

    Thanks for coming by. I think Dutch people were late in realizing that the NL has become a multi cultural country although the migrants came from late 50-es (the Moluccans and Indische Nederlanders). So when a son of a Moroccan migrant became a mayor, it was a big thing.

    It is not an easy job Aboutaleb has as Rotterdam’s mayor. As you stated, he has no experience at all as a mayor, but my opinion is; he has experience in Amsterdam as an Alderman. Somehow, I believe that Aboutaleb would be a better mayor than he was as a Secretary of Social Affairs and Employment.

    As about rivalry between Amsterdam and Rotterdam, those are totally two different cities. They are not to be compared with each other.

    Btw, You have an interesting site. Wanted to leave some comment there but didn’t know how. Ben je een fotografe dus?

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