He studied law and entered the civil service in 1938.
He was first elected to the colony’s legislature, the Staten, as an NPS member in 1949. He succeeded D. H. Emanuels as the second leader of the NPS and in that capacity became prime minister (Minister President) or a coalition government in 1963.
However, social unrest, culminating in strikes by teachers and many other groups, brought the fall of the Pengel cabinet in 1969. In subsequent elections the NPS suffered a severe defeat, and in 1970 Pengel gave up leadership of the party to Henck A. E. Arron.