Hans van Baalen (1960-2021)

It has been announced that Johannes Cornelis “Hans” van Baalen, President of the ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe) Party, passed away this morning after a short period in hospital, having recently been diagnosed as suffering from cancer.

A member of VVD (The People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy), he served as a member of the Dutch Parliament between 1999 and 2002, and from 2003 until 2009 until he took his seat in the European Parliament. His political career started as the International Secretary of VVD, the first step in what became a love of international politics that saw him rise to the top of European and international liberalism.

Also in 2009, he became President of the Liberal International, the global liberal family, and oversaw its development, before becoming President of the ALDE Party in 2015 in a contest that we covered here at Liberal Democrat Voice.

Prominent liberals across the globe have paid tribute to him;

Phil Bennion, the former West Midlands MEP and Vice Chair of the Party’s Federal International Relations Committee added;

Hans was extremely supportive when I entered the European Parliament at the beginning of 2012. He paid me a very strong compliment just before the 2014 election. Not surprising that we became good friends. In fact, that journey started when Hans first ran for LI President. He looked very ill when we were in Athens late in 2019, but he seemed to have recovered.

Hans was also a very good friend to our party. He came over to speak in meetings on several occasions, notably for LIBG. He would think nothing of taking a Eurostar to London to address 20 or so people at the NLC, returning to Brussels early the next morning.

On a personal note, I had the pleasure of working with Hans both as the ALDE Party’s occasional Returning Officer and as a member of its Financial Advisory Committee. Hans was very much what you saw, a jovial, direct Dutchman with a kind word for most and a passion for promoting liberalism. He’ll be a tough act for anyone to follow, and there’s little doubt that his death will overshadow the ALDE Party Congress due to take place in Brussels and online in mid-June.

LDV offers its condolences to his family and friends, and to the ALDE Party and Liberal International, both of whom he served with distinction and determination.

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This entry was posted in Europe / International, News and Obituaries.

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