First Balkenende cabinet

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The first cabinet of Jan Peter Balkenende was in office in the Netherlands from July 22, 2002 until October 16 of the same year. The term of 87 days (counting the first and last days in full and excluding its "caretaker" function that continued for months afterwards) was the shortest since the fifth cabinet of Hendrikus Colijn (July 25 1939 - August 10 1939).

After the May 15, 2002 elections the division of the 150 seats in the lower house (Tweede Kamer) was:

Christen Democratisch Appèl (CDA) 43
Lijst Pim Fortuyn (LPF) 26
Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (VVD) 24
Partij van de Arbeid (PvdA) 23
GroenLinks (GL) 10
Socialistische Partij (SP) 9
Democraten 66 (D66) 7
ChristenUnie (CU) 4
Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij (SGP) 2
Leefbaar Nederland (LN)2

On May 17 Queen Beatrix appointed Piet Hein Donner, a CDA member of the Raad van State as "informer", to investigate the possibilities for a new government. A coalition between CDA, LPF and VVD was established relatively quickly, despite some initial resistance by the VVD. By July 4 a detailed coalition agreement had been drawn up and the Queen appointed Jan Peter Balkenende, the lijsttrekker for the CDA, to form a new cabinet.

The cabinet was named on July 16 and was sworn in on July 22. The first departure from the new executive came a few hours later, when Philomena Bijlhout, the staatssecretaris for Social Affairs and Work Opportunity appointed by the LPF, resigned after evidence was presented that she had been a member of a militia of Dési Bouterse in Suriname in 1982 and 1983 for longer than she had previously declared.

The cabinet Balkenende-1 comprised 14 ministers and 14 state secretaries, with each post allocated to one of the coalition parties. Each of the ministers headed a department, with the exception of one "minister without a portfolio" to deal with "foreigners policy and integration", accommodated by the Ministry of Justice.

In the months following the election, the recently established LPF was beset by power struggles between various factions. This came to a head in October 2002 with a dispute between the cabinet ministers Eduard Bomhoff and Herman Heinsbroek. On October 15 Balkenende asked both to resign from the cabinet, with the LPF faction in parliament making a similar request. On October 16 Bomhoff and Heinsbroek resigned. However party leaders Gerrit Zalm of the VVD and Maxime Verhagen of the CDA said they no longer had confidence in the cabinet. Balkenende announced the resignation of the cabinet on the same day.

Many incidents happened during the short term of this cabinet, especially within the new political party LPF. Most of these incidents were regarded as very funny or very shameful according to many people including leading politicians. The summer of 2002 had so many incidents, that the news in the evening was very different from the news in the morning. A big incident was when minister Nawijn declared to be in favour of the death penalty. The cabinet declared to be against the death penalty. Nawijn reacted that he made his remark as leader of the LPF. The LPF in its turn declared that it was against the death penalty. Nawijn was highly critizised when he declared that it was a personal remark, because it was normal that a minister in a coalition cabinet could make remarks as political party member outside his ministerial responsibility. The personal remark was a new invention of minister Nawijn.

A huge incident between ministers of the LPF, Bomhoff and Heinsbroek let to the fall of the cabinet. vice-prime minister Bomhoff brought a bell to cabinet meetings which he used before he wanted to speak. Minister Heinsbroek didn't like the bell and threatened to throw vice-prime minister Bomhoff with bell out of the window. A huge argument was the result which lasted for weeks. The other LPF ministers decided not to support Bomhoff and Heinsbroek anymore. They made this decision during the funeral of Claus von Amsberg, the husband of the queen. Minister Zalm of finance was so angry that he demanded new elections. He never wanted to be in a government anymore with the LPF.

Meetings with the Queen did not take place until the week after the resignation, since she had attended the funeral of her husband Claus von Amsberg on October 15 and had travelled to Italy immediately afterwards. On October 21 she accepted the resignation and new elections were called for January 22, 2003. The cabinet remained in place as a "caretaker" administration, without Bomhoff and Heinsbroek, until the elections and formation of a new cabinet.

On December 12, 2002, Benk Korthals resigned as caretaker Minister of Defence after a commission of inquiry into building industry fraud accused him of giving false information to the Lower House during the previous cabinet. After resigning he said he still denied the allegations.


[edit] Cabinet actions

[edit] Ministers

Prime Minister, General Affairs (CDA)Jan Peter Balkenende
Vice Prime Minister, Health and Sport (LPF)Eduard Bomhoff (resigned October 16 2002, after which Aart Jan de Geus added this portfolio).
Vice Prime Minister, Internal Affairs and Kingdom Relations (VVD)Johan Remkes
Foreign Affairs (CDA)Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
Justice (CDA)Piet Hein Donner
Education, Culture and Sciences (CDA)Maria van der Hoeven
Finances (VVD)Hans Hoogervorst
Defence (VVD)Benk Korthals (resigned December 12 2002, after which Henk Kamp added this portfolio)
Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment (VVD)Henk Kamp
Transport and Water (LPF)Roelf de Boer
Economic Affairs, External Trade (*) (LPF)Herman Heinsbroek (resigned October 16 2002, after which Hans Hoogervorst added this portfolio).
Agriculture, Nature Management and Fishery (CDA)Cees Veerman
Social Affairs and Work Opportunity (CDA)Aart Jan de Geus
Foreigners Policy and Integration (LPF)Hilbrand Nawijn

[edit] Staatssecretaris

Foreign Affairs (Development Cooperation), Minister of Development Cooperation (*) (CDA)A.M.A. van Ardenne-van der Hoeven
Foreign Affairs (European Affairs) (VVD)Atzo Nicolaï
Internal Affairs and Kingdom Relations (LPF)R.H. Hessing
Education, Culture and Sciences (Science and Higher Education) (VVD)A.D.S. M. Nijs
Education, Culture and Sciences (Culture and Media) (LPF)C.H.J. van Leeuwen
Finances (LPF)S.R.A. van Eijck
Defence (CDA)C. van der Knaap
Housing, Spacial Planning and Environment (CDA)P.B.L.A van Geel
Transport and Water (VVD)M.H. Schultz van Haegen-Maas Geesteranus
Economic Affairs (CDA), Minister of Foreign Trade (*)Joop Wijn
Agriculture, Nature Management and Fishery (LPF)B.J. Odink
Social Affairs and Work Opportunity (VVD)M. Rutte
Social Affairs and Work Opportunity (Emancipation and Family Affairs) (LPF)Philomena Bijlhout (resigned July 22 2002), Khee Liang Phoa (from September 92002)
Health and Sport (CDA)Clemence Ross-Van Dorp

(*) Alternative title that can be used outside the Netherlands.

[edit] Sources

[edit] See also

[edit] References


li:Kabinet-Balkenende I

nl:Kabinet-Balkenende I

First Balkenende cabinet

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