Alumnus and longest-serving Dutch Prime Minister, Ruud Lubbers, dies at 78

Ruud Lubbers, alumnus of Erasmus School of Economics and former Dutch Prime Minister

Ruud Lubbers, alumnus and former longtime Dutch Prime Minister, died Wednesday 14 February, aged 78, Lubbers was Prime Minister from 1982 to 1994 and led three governments, making him the Netherlands’ longest-serving government leader.

Rudolphus (Ruud) Franciscus Marie Lubbers (born May 1939 in Rotterdam) studied economics at the Netherlands School of Economics (the predecessor of Erasmus School of Economics and Erasmus University Rotterdam). As suggested by the title of his 1962 thesis, “The influence of differing productivity trends in various countries on the current account of the balance of payments”, his main interest was in monetary affairs.

Lubbers had very fond memories of his years at the Netherlands School of Economics, mostly thanks to the succession of outstanding professors who taught there. He said: “This more than anything made it such a worthwhile experience. Imagine sitting in a lecture hall, listening to Professor Jan Tinbergen or Professor Johannes Witteveen, to name just two luminaries. Actually, my time studying there finished too soon – although thanks to Tinbergen, when I graduated under Witteveen’s supervision, it was still with honours.” He originally planned an academic career but was compelled by family circumstances to join the management of Lubbers’ Construction Workshops and Machinery Fabricators, Hollandia B.V.

Political career

From May 1973 to December 1977 Ruud Lubbers was Minister for Economic Affairs in the Den Uyl-government as a member of the Catholic People’s Party (KVP). He chose to return to Parliament on the formation of the Van Agt-government in 1977, becoming Senior Deputy Parliamentary Leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), the Alliance between the KVP and the other two main denominational parties. In the autumn of 1978 Lubbers became Parliamentary Leader of the Alliance. From 1982 to July 1986 and from July 1986 to November 1989 he was Prime Minister of the first and second Lubbers-government CDA-VVD alliances. On the latter date he was reappointed as Prime Minister to lead the third Lubbers-government, a CDA-PvdA alliance. In August 1994 Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers finished his political career. In 2001 he was appointed the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Lubbers returned to domestic politics in 2006, when he was tasked with forming the second Cabinet of Jan Peter Balkenende, (nowadays Professor of Governance, Institutions and Internationalisation at Erasmus School of Law and Erasmus School of Economics). Ruud Lubbers had an advisory role in the government formation in 2010.