Liberal leader Hans van Baalen dies aged 60

File photo. President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Hans van Baalen speaks during the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Party Congress 2018 in Madrid, Spain, 9 November 2018. [Fernando Villar/EPA/EFE]

Hans van Baalen, ALDE Party President, passed away in the late hours of 29 April at the age of 60 after a short illness, his party central announced on Friday (30 April).

Van Baalen served as President of ALDE Party since 2015. Before that he was President of Liberal International (2009-2014) and had a long career as a member of the Dutch House of Representatives (1999-2009) and as a member of European Parliament (2009-2019).

His compatriot and party fellow Mark Rutte wrote in Twitter he was saddened by the death of Hans van Baalen with whom he had been working since 1993.

“Hans played a decisive role in the enormous growth of the liberal group in the European Parliament”, Rutte stated.

Dacian Cioloş, chair of the Renew Europe group in the European Parliament, stated that throughout his political life Van Baalen was always keen to listen and to promote liberal values, “tirelessly travelling the world to bring all Liberals together”.

“Our Renew family is today well aware that we are losing one of our major and tireless supporters”, Cioloş stated.

Liberal heavyweight Guy Verhofstadt, MEP and former Belgian Prime Minister, called Van Baalen “a dear colleague and crafty compromise maker in the European Parliament, a trusted president of the ALDE party, a true liberal heart”.

The liberal group in the European Parliament counts 108 MEPs of a total of 751 and is the third largest, after the centre-right EPP and the centre-left S&D. The ALDE political party  was created in 1976 ahead of the first European elections in 1979. It now consists of 70 member parties and thousands of individual members across the EU.

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