Many politicians use Twitter to reach out to their supporters. Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake has turned the microblogging site into an agenda-setting tool, with rapid-fire tweets on the issues closest to her heart: the Middle East, the migration crisis, Turkey and trade, transatlantic relations, “dual-use” digital technology that can be used by repressive governments against their citizens. It is a rare example of a politician willing to engage with the issues in real time, in full public view.
Since her election in 2009 on a 10-tweet manifesto, Schaake has not shied from confrontation. She has criticized, for example, former foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton for not taking a strong enough stance on human rights. During a visit to Iran, Schaake met with a human rights advocate to the displeasure of the ruling mullahs.
At a time when the tide of liberalism is receding — in the Netherlands and in Europe, generally — Schaake remains a vocal, if increasingly lonely, champion of free markets and a borderless world. Her biggest worry at the moment: that rising acrimony among EU countries will undermine the European project. “When is the silent minority going to speak up?” she asks.
With parliamentary elections in the Netherlands next year, Schaake’s name has been floated as a potential candidate for the foreign ministry. For now, her attention remains focused on Brussels.