Ruud Lubbers dead: Long-serving former Dutch prime minister dies aged 78

World

The long-serving Dutch prime minister Ruud Lubbers, who led the Netherlands from 1982 to 1994, has died at the age of 78.

Mr Lubbers had the longest tenure of any prime minister in the country’s history, and guided the Netherlands through economic turmoil to prosperity while helping shape the foundations of the European Union.

The Dutch government announced that Mr Lubbers died on Wednesday in Rotterdam surrounded by his wife and children. No cause of death was given. 

Mr Lubbers headed a conservative administration from 1982 to 1994, trimming back the Dutch welfare state, persuading powerful labour unions to rein in their demands and ushering in years of growth. 

However, his international reputation suffered in 2005 when he was forced to step down as UN High Commissioner for Refugees in a sexual harassment scandal. 

He was sometimes criticised as too willing to compromise on principles, but supporters say he was a pragmatist and deal-maker. 

AP

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