PvdA's Hilhorst resigns

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The political career of Pieter Hilhorst has come to an end after only a year-and-a-half. At the end of 2012, he became alderman for the PvdA in Amsterdam, without any political experience. He resigned on Thursday.  Hilhorst (48) was a frontrunner for the municipal council elections on Wednesday. He stopped because his party lost more than 10 percent in the capital city.

Before Hilhorst became alderman, he was a publicist as well as a programmer. He wrote columns for the Volkskrant and was an ombudsman at VARA. The main reason for Hilhorst's rise to politics was the departure of Lodewijk Asscher from the municipal governing board, becoming vice-prime minister in the Rutte cabinet. Hilhorst declared his desire to be Assher's successor in one of his own columns. His eventual win made him "incredibly proud" as he tweeted. Even though Hilhorst was unversed in governance, he got his predecessor's heavy portfolio in Youth, Education and Finance. He made quite a disturbance when he was responsible as alderman for a calculation mistake in the town-hall. He misplaced a comma when he deposited benefits in the city. Whoever had a right to €155, got €15,500 instead. Altogether, €188 million too much was paid. Most of this was returned, but the city's damages is thought to land between 1 and 2 million euro. With this background, Hilhorst became frontrunner. It was already known that it would be a difficult task for the inexperienced politico. The polls didn't predict a rosy future for the PvdA in Amsterdam, neither in the rest of the country. Ex-PvdA-party president Felix Rottenberg didn't make it easier by voicing his criticisms about Hilhorst as frontrunner to a Belgian newspaper. He never got the time to grow, Rottenberg said. "He was thrown in the deep end and is in danger of drowning." The neck-and-neck race between the D66 and the PvdA in Amsterdam was eventually won by the former. This takes the PvdA off the pedestal of biggest party in the city, which hasn't happened since the Second World War. An "unbelievable blow", Hilhorst called the result Wednesday night. What he thought about possible consequences, he wanted to "sleep on it." Thursday morning, he announced his resignation from PvdA leadership in Amsterdam.

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