Amsterdam mayor's resignation met with sorrowful reactions

Shocked and sad reactions met Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan's announcement that he is stepping down due to his metastasized lung cancer. Van der Laan (PvdA) announced on Monday afternoon that he is resigning, based on the advice of his doctors. One Amsterdam city council member described the news as "a punch to the face", RTL Nieuws reports.

"At this moment, I am mainly thinking about the mayor and his family", Marja Ruigrok, VVD faction leader in Amsterdam, said to the broadcaster. "Hopefully they can still spend some time together." She said that her party is "very grateful" to Van der Laan "for his commitment and connecting role in Amsterdam."

D66 faction leader Reinier van Dantzig called the Amsterdam mayor's announcement an "incredibly sad message". "We as faction are really devastated. Eberhard was a very involved city father who has an incredible heart for Amsterdam and who acted as a protector for freedom and security in the city. In addition to that, he is an incredibly nice person. We wish him and his family a lot of strength and love in the coming days."

"Of course it does not come as a surprise, but it remains intensely sad, sorry and emotional", GroenLinks faction leader Rutger Groot Wassink said to RTL, calling Van der Laan "a fantastic mayor". "I would have liked to have him as mayor for longer."

Deputy Prime Minister and PvdA leader Lodewijk Asscher announced that he is "devastated" by the news that Van der Laan needs to step down, but he is also grateful for everything he did. Asscher was city councilor and alderman in Amsterdam for years and worked closely with Van der Laan. "What I hear around me and feel for myself - those two emotions predominate", Asscher said, according to the broadcaster. "Devastated by the news. And grateful for everything he did for the city."

Prime Minister Mark Rutte expressed support for Van der Laan on Monday. "Very sad news. I have admiration for his courage and openness", he said, according to 

Fellow PvdA member and Home Affairs Minister Ronald Plasterk also reacted sadly to the news. "We are proud of him", he said.

D66 leader Alexander Pechtold called Van der Laan "a driven mayor and nice man." CDA leader Sybrand Buma wished Van der Laan "strength and luck" for the coming period. ChristenUnie leader Gert-Jan Segers said that he read "the impressive letter of Eberhard van der Laan with sorrow". "I thank him for everything he did for Amsterdam and the Netherlands and wish him and his family a lot of strength", he said, according to RTL.

Johan Remkes, commissioner of the King in Noord-Holland, spoke to Van der Laan on Monday to accept his resignation. "I respect the decision of Mayor Van der Laan. I am sad that this decision is necessary. I wish him a lot of strength."

On the Amsterdam municipality's website, hundreds of people left responses to Van der Laan's resignation. Most all of them are filled with thanks, sadness and well wishes. "Thanks for the love and support you pushed into our city and into us as people", one reaction reads. Another: "How often do we get bad messages through the media, almost every minute. Most pass me by. The news about you made me cry. I wish you and your family a lot of strength for the coming time."

The Amsterdam mayor announced his resignation in a letter to Amsterdam residents. The full, translated, text can be found below:


Dear Amsterdammers,

In January, I wrote to you that I received bad news from my doctors, but hoped to stay your mayor for a while. For the past eight months, I've done that with pleasure. Your support has helped me enormously.

To that while, an end has now come. Today, I received the message from my doctors that they can no longer treat me.

I reported myself sick to Commissioner of the King Remkes. My duties will be taken over by deputy mayor Kasja Ollongren for the time being.

It was a great privilege to be mayor of the nicest and prettiest city in the world. I thank you for the trust you put in me, for your involvement and for all the support and contradiction I received from you over the past seven years.

Take care of our city and of each other.


Eberhard van der Laan.