Learn more about Wouter Bos
|Born||July 14, 1963
Bos was raised in a so-called doorbraak social-democratic family with a protestant background in Vlaardingen. His father founded the ecumenical development cooperation fund ICCO, which he also led for many years. Between 1969 and 1974 Bos attended the protestant elementary school de Beurthonk in Odijk. Since 1974 he attended the protestant high school Christelijk Lyceum in Zeist. In 1980 he graduated specializing in sciences and classics. In 1980-81 he was a Voluntary Instructor at the YMCA National Centre in Curdridge in the United Kingdom.
 Life before politics
He became a member of the PvdA in 1981. In the same year Bos started studying Political Science at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. In 1982 he also took up Economics. In 1988 he graduated cum laude in both subjects.
From 1988 till 1998 he worked for Royal Dutch/Shell in various positions. With a background in Shell, he differs from other Dutch leftwing politicians, who rarely have a background in a major multinational. Bos began to work for Shell because he thought that "the Dutch Left should not leave the business world to the Dutch Right".
Between 1988 and 1990 he worked at the Pernis Refinery as a management consultant, where he was a specialist on training and reorganisation. In 1990 he became policy advisor for the central board, specializing in labour relations and working conditions, he also served as representative of the central board in its dealings with the central works council. In 1992-93 he was stationed as general affairs manager for Shell Romania Exploration, where he was responsible for setting up the Romanian branch of Shell. In 1993 he was stationed in Hong Kong, to work as staff planning and development manager for Shell Companies in Greater China, responsible for the recruitment and selection of new manager for Shell in South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. In 1996 he returned to Europe, and worked as a consultant for new markets for Shell International Oil Products in London, focusing on acquisition in developing LPG markets in South America and Asia. In 1998 he left Shell to enter Dutch politics. For a short while he was policy advisor for the PvdA parliamentary party in the lower house and a personal assistant of the party's financial spokesperson, Rick van der Ploeg.
 Political Life
In 1998 he was elected into the lower house of parliament for the PvdA as finance specialist. He had campainged together with Rick van der Ploeg and Willem Vermeend as the Polderboys and gave lectures in economics at universities. In 2000, due to a cabinet reshuffle, he succeeded Willem Vermeend as staatssecretaris of finance, responsible for taxation, monetary policy and lower government finances. Together with minister Gerrit Zalm he was able to get parliamentary support for a radical reform of the tax system. After the may 2002 elections he returned to parliament, as a specialist on income policy and health affairs.
After the fall of the first Balkenende cabinet Bos was elected top candidate for the following elections and de facto leader of the PvdA in the 2002 PvdA leadership election by 60% of the voting members. He immediately became the chairman of the parliamentary party, succeeding Jeltje van Nieuwenhoven. Leaving Jeltje van Nieuwenhoven, Klaas de Vries and Jouke de Vries behind him by a 30% margin. In December 2002 Bos married to Barbara Bos (the similar second name is coincidental) the master of ceremonies of his marriage was Joop Wijn, the CDA staatssecretaris of finance.
In the January 2003 election, Bos entered a head to head race with incumbent prime minister and leader of the christian-democratic CDA Jan Peter Balkenende. Under Bos the vote and seats of the PvdA nearly doubled from 15% (23 seats) in 2002 to 27% (42 seats) percent in 2003. The ressurgence of the PvdA is partially credited to Bos' charisma and youthful appearance (and according to some journalists Bos' "sexy touch"). Balkenende's CDA however remained largest party with a two seat margin. In the following government formation talks, the personal chemistry between Balkenende and Bos failed. After lengthy talks with the PvdA, the CDA formed a government with the conservative liberal VVD and the progressive liberal D66.
Now Bos is the leader of the largest opposition party. Bos has spend considerable time reforming the PvdA internal organisation and public image, together with the party's chairman Ruud Koole. He is criticized for his silence on important reforms and issues, and his moderacy which gives lead to other parties claiming opposition leadership. Although still enjoying large public support, criticism about his "style over substance" approach to politics ensured that he was voted as the most overrated politician in the Netherlands. At the december 2005 party congress, Bos announced that he aspired to become Prime Minister of the Netherlands, should the PvdA succeed in becoming the biggest party after the next parliament elections. In the 2006 municipal elections the PvdA performed particularly well, becoming the largest party local government. However, in the election campaign for the Dutch general elections of 2006 the PvdA - for the second time campaigning under his leadership - struggles fiercely with the CDA to maintain its leading position under the electorate. Some consider pension reforms proposed by him to embattle the consequences of an aging population as a reason for his recent decline in popularity. <ref> "Balkenende wijst uitnodiging Bos af", De Telegraaf (1-10-2006) "Volgens Balkenende heeft Bos problemen omdat hij „vervelende” boodschappen als de beperking van de hypotheekrenteaftrek en de fiscalisering van de AOW aan de kiezer moet verkopen." </ref> Others emphasize a declining confidence in Bos among parts of the electorate that perceive him as "unreliable", as reason for this.<ref> "Kiezer is links, stemt rechts", Trouw (11-11-2006) "Het verlies voor de PvdA zit vooral in de geringe waardering voor de persoon van lijsttrekker Wouter Bos. De PvdA-leider scoort laag op punten als betrouwbaarheid en bekwaamheid. Zijn grote concurrent Balkenende scoort op betrouwbaarheid stukken beter en op bekwaamheid heeft hij zijn eerdere achterstand goedgemaakt." </ref>