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Second Balkenende cabinet

From Academic Kids

nl:Kabinet-Balkenende II

The second cabinet of Jan Peter Balkenende has been in office in the Netherlands from May 27, 2003.

It consists of three political parties: VVD, CDA and D66. D66 is the smallest of them.

After the January 22, 2003 elections the division of the 150 seats in the lower house (Tweede Kamer) was:

Christen Democratisch Appèl (CDA)44
Partij van de Arbeid (PvdA)42
Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (VVD)28
Socialistische Partij (SP)9
Lijst Pim Fortuyn (LPF)8
GroenLinks (GL)8
Democraten 66 (D66)6
ChristenUnie (CU)3
Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij (SGP)2

On January 24, Queen Beatrix asked Piet Hein Donner (minister of Justice for the CDA in the previous cabinet) to lead the coalition negotiations. The negotiations for the coalition were lengthy. Initially the CDA preferred to continue its right-wing coalition with the VVD, but they didn't have sufficient seats in the Tweede Kamer without the support of a third party. Another coalition with Lijst Pim Fortuyn would be likely to be unpopular with voters, after the events of the first Balkenende cabinet and D66 was unwilling to join a coalition. A long negotiation between CDA and PvdA followed, but after a couple of months was called off by Balkenende. At this point, D66 decided to join the coalition after all. When VVD MP Geert Wilders left his party on September 2, 2004 (continuing as a one man party), the narrow majority of the Balkenende II cabinet slimmed down even further to two seats in the Tweede Kamer.

The cabinet took power at a time when the Netherlands' economy was in poor shape, with increasing unemployment and slight economic contraction. In its budget of September 16, 2003, the cabinet announced budget cuts of 5700 million euro, making a total of 11 milliard euro when combined with the cuts announced by the previous cabinet. Among other measures, free dental care, physiotherapy and anti-conception medication were cut, 12000 positions were to be eliminated in the armed forces and some of their bases closed, the link between benefit payment rates and salaries was to be broken, and the rental housing subsidy was reduced. At the same time, 4 milliard euro in extra spending was made available, mainly in education and justice.

On March 23, 2005, after the Eerste Kamer had voted against a change in the constitution that should have made it possible for mayors to be elected directly (as opposed to being named by the government, as they are now), Minister Thom de Graaff of Government Reform resigned. His two colleagues from D66, Laurens Jan Brinkhorst and Medy van der Laan also threatened to resign, which would have meant the end of the cabinet, but after negotiations between the coalition partners, this crisis was averted and De Graaff was replaced as Minister of Government Reform and Kingdom Relations by Alexander Pechtold, and as Deputy Prime Minister by Laurens Jan Brinkhorst.

In the cabinet, there are 16 ministers (CDA 8, VVD 6, and D66 2) and 10 state secretaries (a political position slightly below a minister). 17 of them were also in the first Balkenende cabinet: they are marked with an * in the list below.

Ministers

Portfolio Minister
Prime Minister,
Minister of General Affairs (CDA)
Jan Peter Balkenende*
Deputy Prime Minister,
Minister of Finance (VVD)
Gerrit Zalm
Deputy Prime Minister,
Ministry of Government Reform and Kingdom Relations (D66)
Thom de Graaff; resigned and succeeded by Alexander Pechtold as Minister of Government Reform and Kingdom Relations and by Laurens Jan Brinkhorst as Deputy Prime Minister
Minister of Home affairs (VVD) Johan Remkes*
Minister of Foreign affairs (CDA) Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who has become secretary-general of NATO. He has been succeeded by Bernard Bot.
Minister of Justice (CDA)Piet Hein Donner*
Minister of Education, Culture and Science (CDA)Maria van der Hoeven*
Minister of Development Coordination (CDA)Agnes van Ardenne
Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport (VVD)Hans Hoogervorst*
Minister of Defence (VVD)Henk Kamp*
Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VVD)Sybilla Dekker
Minister of Transport, Public Works and Water Management (CDA) Karla Peijs
Minister of Economic Affairs (D66)Laurens Jan Brinkhorst
Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (CDA)Cees Veerman*
Minister of Social Affairs and Employment (CDA)Aart Jan de Geus*
Minister of Immigration and Integration (VVD)Rita Verdonk

State Secretaries

Portfolio State Secretary
State Secretary of European Affairs (Abroad minister)
Ministry of Foreing Affairs (VVD)
Atzo Nicolaï*
State Secretary of Education, Culture and Science(VVD)Mark Rutte*
State Secretary of Culture and ICT
Ministry of Education, Culture and Science(D66)
Medy van der Laan
State Secretary of Finance (CDA)Joop Wijn*
State Secretary of Defensie (CDA)Cees van der Knaap*
State Secretary of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (CDA)Pieter van Geel*
State Secretary of Transport, Public Works and Water Management (VVD)Melanie Schultz van Haegen*
State Secretary of Economic Affairs (CDA)Karien van Gennip
State Secretary of Social Affairs and Employment (VVD)Henk van Hoof*
State Secretary of Health, Welfare and Sport (CDA)Clémence Ross-Van Dorp*
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