SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Femke Halsema was sworn in as the new mayor of Amsterdam on Thursday, acknowledging the legacy of late mayor Eberhard van der Laan and pledging to deal with the growing city’s challenges but keep its sense of freedom.
After thanking the crowd for the trust placed in her, she added Van der Laan’s pledge of eight years ago: ‘Trust is a gift, never an entitlement, and you should always be grateful for it.
I am indeed grateful, and I know I must prove myself worthy of this trust every day for the next six years.’ By 2025, she said, the 750-year-old city’s population will have grown by 70,000, plus an expected 29 million tourists and day-trippers – a third more than this year.
She added that the ‘international village’ is becoming a metropolis, and with that come growing pains.
‘This growth spurt may produce growing pains, put our relationships under pressure, and affect the essence of our city.
By the essence of the city, I don’t mean the self-assurance, the humour, or the typical Amsterdam torrents of abuse… like when you’re cycling on the pavement and – totally by accident, of course – you knock someone flying.
‘And neither do I mean the constant roadworks, the traffic jams…the irritations about parking… or the endless discussions we have about such momentous issues as the cycle tunnel under the Rijksmuseum…
The essence of Amsterdam is the promise of freedom.’ She pledged to defend this freedom, while combating crime, listening to sometimes-ignored Amsterdammers in less prosperous areas, and protecting minorities.
Van der Laan, the last permanent mayor, died from lung cancer last October, aged 62. (DutchNews)