Christian fighter against forced prostitution leaves Dutch politics


Western Europe


Segers in debate in the Dutch Lower House with Geert Wilders (left). Photo ANP, Sem van der Wal

The leader of the Dutch coalition party ChristianUnion, Gert-Jan Segers, leaves the stage. Coming Tuesday, the parliamentary party will decide about the new party leader.

In a letter to his party members, he says that politics is a "greedy" business and that his family deserves more from him. "We have always held onto each other during these ten years," he wrote to the party members, "but it is also good for us as a family to make a point now and have more time for each other again."

In the decade that he was in Parliament, he was motivated by his religious beliefs, he writes. "I have sought to put it all at the service of the Christian Union's important mission to follow Jesus also in politics, to be of service to our neighbours and to care for creation", he says. "As a Christian at the heart of our society and political decision-making, I have become committed to my neighbour precisely because I see how God himself has placed a cross in the middle of that world, embracing it with eternal arms."


He thinks that it is time for a new face at his place. "Leadership also involves understanding that that role is temporary. We are all replaceable doodlers, and God's work is always teamwork."

Although the ChristianUnion is a small party, with 3,37 per cent of the vote in the 2021 elections (5 of the 150 seats in the Lower House). In the past, parties of this size would never have entered the government coalition. But since the nineties, the large parties have been shrinking, and more partners are necessary to form a working alliance. For that reason, the ChristianUnion is part of the government for the third time now.

Segers was sworn in as a Member of Parliament in September 2012. In the years that followed, he fought for more action against trafficking, forced prostitution and better facilities for women who left prostitution. According to Segers, almost all women in the sex branch are under pressure. He got a private member's bill against trafficking in the statute book. In the election campaign in 2017, he fought against the idea of "accomplished life" with a manifesto called "dignified ageing". Parts of that manifesto became part of the coalition program.


Especially for Gert-Jan Segers, it was always challenging at the top of Dutch politics. Every week, he met leaders of other coalition parties. Segers sat there as a devout Protestant with a pietistic upbringing and very recognisable as a Christian. In the letter, Segers writes that he and his wife were always led by the words of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5: He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

But in the same years as Segers's movement was in government, the other parties grew to a much more secularist position that receives Christianity sometimes as a threat to democracy. During the election campaign, other leaders have fired questions on him about homosexuality and other sensitive issues.

In the same years as Segers was in Parliament, his party broadened its scope. The ChristianUnion has roots in two small Protestant parties that concentrated on medical ethics and family politics. The ChristianUnion has a more social and green profile now. The party is open to Roman Catholics now as well. Homosexuality is handled much differently now. Whilst the 'mother parties' were very much against same-sex marriage in 2000, it contains the list for the Senate a Roman Catholic who lives in a homosexual relationship. The party membership seems to accept that.

Segers has been the party leader since 2015. It is expected that MP Mirjam Bikker will succeed Segers as party leader. Nico Drost will take the empty seat.



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