Medical Care Minister Van Ark resigns; The ninth minister to quit the Cabinet
Medical Care Minister Tamara van Ark is the latest high profile resignation from the acting Cabinet of the Netherlands. A total of nine ministers have already left the current Cabinet. Cora van Nieuwenhuizen left her role at the top of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management on Tuesday.
Van Ark stepped down for health reasons. Health Minister Hugo de Jonge and his state secretary, Paul Blokhuis, will take over her duties, according to the government's public relations office. Van Ark took six weeks of rest this summer because she had health issues related to her neck. She is also giving up her seat in the Tweede Kamer.
"Over the past few weeks I have taken steps to recover from persistent neck complaints. Unfortunately, the recovery is not at the level where I can get back to work. This work, both in the Cabinet and the Tweede Kamer, requires 100 percent, and often more, and that is not possible now. I also do not know when that will be the case. That is why I have decided to step down," she said in a statement.
Van Ark was number two on the election candidate list for the VVD, the largest party in the lower house of parliament. She was previously State Secretary for Social Affairs. She became Minister for Medical Care last year after Bruno Bruins suddenly resigned from that position. Bruins collapsed from exhaustion during a debate in the Tweede Kamer. Martin van Rijn held the position for several months before Van Ark took the job.
Van Ark is the third minister from the Rutte III Cabinet to resign for health reasons. Bruins was the first to leave the Cabinet for this reason. This was followed in May of this year by Minister Bas van 't Wout of Economic Affairs and Climate. He resigned to cope with symptoms of burnout.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte said after the resignation of his party colleague Van 't Wout that he wants to think about whether more ministers are needed to be able to handle the Cabinet work. "So that you can survive those four years and come out healthy."
"Brave decision by @TamaravanArk to step down to continue her recovery. She has taken on several jobs with extraordinary skill over the years. I am very grateful for our collaboration and wish Tamara a very speedy recovery for now," Rutte tweeted about Van Ark's decision.
Van Nieuwenhuizen resigned from the Cabinet to chair the political lobby group Energie Nederland. The move was criticized in the House of Representatives. She was replaced by Barbara Visser, who had previously been State Secretary for Defence.
Reporting by ANP