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Goodbye Hans van Mierlo

March 12, 2010

As much as I understand, respect and admire Wouter Bos’ decision to resign as leader of the Dutch Labour Party; I resent his timing. The sad news of Hans van Mierlo’s death last night was still ‘hot’ and today should’ve been his media-day.

Hans van Mierlo
was one of the last Nestors. A reverent statesman and one —it now seems— of the last kind gentlemen in the Dutch political arena. In the July 2009 piece Everyday heroes, I pleaded for once again opening the floor to intelligent and decent men; the likes of him.

Beauty & Brains

I remember the first time I saw the old publicity clip of Van Mierlo walking down the streets towards the viewer. A simple, yet powerful clip of a young man, in the full potential of his life. Ready to take on the world. And starting with the Dutch politics.

Originally, he appealed to my frivolous femininity. Guilty as charged. There he was, a tall clean-cut well educated handsome young man; with a smouldering Ronald Colman voice and a message that still rings true today. Along the lines of a typical Dutch male Beauty & Brains: well, he was the poster boy for it.

Dutch wise, Hans van Mierlo is the closest I ever came to the infatuation Americans must have felt in 2008 with Barack Obama. Deservedly Van Mierlo was seen as the Dutch answer to JFK. The same charisma, the same sex appeal and above all a wonderful intellect. A budding promise to great leadership and great public deeds.

Political engagement

In the time of the first and second Purple Cabinet, I voted for him. Through his persuasive, intelligent and moreover decent reasoning he got me engaged in the national Dutch politics. And I truly believe, along with me many others from the (former) Dutch Colonial Territories.

Older generations Surinamese and Dutch Antilleans like myself tend to vote liberal left: D66. I strongly believe Van Mierlo’s magic has something to do with it. And believe me, that’s a feat in itself. For we’re besotted with the Royal Family: D66’s core’s republican.

Legacy of Intellect and Decency

Hans van Mierlo was a beautiful and decent man. An intellectual, a visionary and a wise man. He’s left a gaping hole in the political spectrum. And I fear it will really take us some time to replace him.

I feel the same as Hanneke Groenteman, when she writes that stupidity now reigns. Just take a look at the present Dutch politics. It’s a dispirited and withered scene; stripped of all intellect and decency.

For this and a lot more reasons, Hans van Mierlo will be dearly missed. I can only hope we’ll understand how to cherish his legacy and carry on where he left off.

Goodbye Grand Old Hans van Mierlo. Goodbye.
May you Rest In Peace.

— You can offer your condolences at the official D66’s online register

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