Marcel van Dam
Marcel van Dam in 2007
Minister of Housing
and Spatial Planning
In office
11 September 1981 – 29 May 1982
Prime MinisterDries van Agt
Preceded byDany Tuijnman (Ad interim)
Succeeded byErwin Nypels
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
16 September 1982 – 22 January 1986
In office
8 June 1977 – 11 September 1981
Parliamentary groupLabour Party
State Secretary for Housing
and Spatial Planning
In office
11 May 1973 – 8 September 1977
Serving with Jan Schaefer
Prime MinisterJoop den Uyl
Preceded byWerner Buck
Succeeded byGerrit Brokx
Personal details
Marcel Parcival Arthur van Dam

(1938-01-30) 30 January 1938 (age 83)
Utrecht, Netherlands
Political partyLabour Party (1966–2003)
Other political
(from 2003)
Catholic People's Party
Milou Derks
(m. 1965)
Children2 children
ResidenceNunspeet, Netherlands
Alma materUtrecht University
(Bachelor of Social Science, Master of Social Science)
OccupationPolitician · Sociologist · Researcher · Ombudsman · Journalist · Editor · Author · television producer · Television presenter · Nonprofit director · Media administrator · Political pundit · Activist

Marcel Parcival Arthur van Dam (Dutch pronunciation: [mɑrˈsɛl vɑn ˈdɑm]; born 30 January 1938) is a retired Dutch politician of the Labour Party (PvdA) and journalist.[1]

Van Dam worked as a researcher for the Wiardi Beckman Foundation from April 1967 until September 1969. Van Dam also was active as a political activist and was one of the leaders of the New Left movement in the Netherlands which aimed to steer the Labour Party more to the Left. Van Dam worked as a journalist for the VARA from September 1969 until May 1973 as an ombudsman from September 1969 until May 1973 and as an editor from April 1971 until May 1973. After the election of 1972 Van Dam was appointed as State Secretary for Housing and Spatial Planning in the Cabinet Den Uyl, taking office on 11 May 1973. The Cabinet Den Uyl fell on 22 March 1977 and continued to serve in a demissionary capacity. Van Dam was elected as a Member of the House of Representatives after the election of 1977, taking office on 8 June 1977 but he was still serving in the cabinet and because of dualism customs in the constitutional convention of Dutch politics he couldn't serve a dual mandate he subsequently resigned as State Secretary on 8 September 1977. After the election of 1981 Van Dam was appointed as Minister of Housing and Spatial Planning in the Cabinet Van Agt II, taking office on 11 September 1981. The Cabinet Van Agt II fell just seven months into its term on 12 May 1982 and continued to serve in a demissionary capacity until it was replaced by the caretaker Cabinet Van Agt III on 29 May 1982. After the election of 1982 Van Dam returned as a Member of the House of Representatives, taking office on 16 September 1982.[2]

In December 1985 Van Dam was nominated as Chairman of the Board of directors of public broadcaster VARA, he resigned as a Member of the House of Representatives on 22 January 1986 and was installed as a Chairman serving from 10 January 1986 until 30 November 1995. Van Dam remained active in the public sector for the VARA working as a television presenter and television producer for several political programs from January 1996 until January 2005 and occupied numerous seats as a nonprofit director on several boards of directors and supervisory boards (International Institute of Social History, Terre des hommes, International Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Institute for Multiparty Democracy) and as an advocate and activist for social justice, social integration, anti-war movement, multiculturalism, minority groups and housing reformer.

Van Dam is known for his abilities as a debater and negotiator. Following his retirement Van Dam remains active as an political pundit and columnist for the VARA and the de Volkskrant and continues to comment on political affairs.[3]

Early life

Van Dam was born into a Catholic family as one of nine siblings, however during his childhood, both his youngest brother and one of his elder brothers died. During the Second World War, Van Dam's family had to go into hiding, as a result of his father's refusal to arrest Jews, and his subsequent contribution to the resistance.[4][5]

In 1956 Van Dam became a member of the KVP and from 1957 he studied law and sociology at Utrecht University. He never completed studies in law, graduating instead as a sociologist. In 1965 he graduated with thesis on voter behaviour, before performing the first exit poll held in the Netherlands during parliamentary elections as per the methodology he had earlier developed.[6]

Labor Party

During the first Van Aft cabinet (1977-1981), Van Dam became the state secretary of Housing for the PvdA before the fall of the cabinet, then later becoming member of the House of Representatives (1977–81).

At the height of the Lockheed Affair in 1976, Van Dam came into conflict with then-Prime Minister Joop den Uyl. The Prime Minister pushed for a compromise on the sensitive issue, advocating that the prince consort Bernhard van Lippe-Biesterfeld should escape legal prosecution. Van Dam, however, thought the prince would be unjustly released. As he recounts: "I called Joop and said, Joop, I am resigning. And I went home." He later rescinded his resignation.


Ribbon bar Honour Country Date Comment
Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion Netherlands 11 April 1978
Commander of the Order of Orange-Nassau Netherlands 9 September 1982


  1. ^ "De hobbelstrategie" (in Dutch). De Groene Amsterdammer. 25 October 1995. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  2. ^ "Waarom het kabinet-Den Uyl moest vallen; Bonje om de premier-bonus". NRC Handelsblad (in Dutch). 22 March 1997. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  3. ^ "Marathoninterview Marcel van Dam" (in Dutch). VPRO. 8 March 2016. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  4. ^ van Dam, Marcel; de Vaan, Katrien (2016). "Kans op meerwaarde van rekenkamers". Beleidsonderzoek Online. 0 (4). doi:10.5553/bo/221335502016000004001. ISSN 2213-3550.
  5. ^ "Staatkundig dagblad van de Zuiderzee". doi:10.1163/2214-8264_dutchpamphlets-kb2-kb27582. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ Beishuizen, Jan (1967). Look at the Voter. Amsterdam: Het Parool.
Political offices Preceded byWerner Buck State Secretary for Housing and Spatial Planning1973–1977 With: Jan Schaefer Succeeded byGerrit Brokx Preceded byDany Tuijnman Ad interim Minister of Housing and Spatial Planning1981–1982 Succeeded byErwin Nypels Media offices Preceded byAlbert van den Heuvel Chairman of the Board of directors of the VARA1986–1995 Succeeded byVera Keur