Netherlands cabinet Balkenende-4


Netherlands cabinet Balkenende-4

The fourth Balkenende cabinet or Balkenende IV is the current Dutch coalition cabinet formed by the political parties Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), Labour Party (PvdA), and ChristianUnion (CU). The cabinet succeeded the third Balkenende cabinet and was installed by Queen Beatrix on 22 February 2007. It was named Balkenende IV after Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende. The cabinet is scheduled to be in office until 2011.

Formation

The coalition cabinet Balkenende II collapsed on 29 June 2006 after the political party Democrats 66 (D66) withdrew their support for the coalition. The political parties Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) and People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) formed the minority cabinet Balkenende III, which was installed on 7 July 2006, and early general elections were held on 22 November 2006. After the elections the Christian Democratic Appeal remained the largest party, while the Socialist Party (SP), the Party for Freedom (PVV), the ChristianUnion (CU), and the Party for the Animals (PvdD) gained seats in the new Tweede Kamer.

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands appointed Rein Jan Hoekstra as "informateur". He explored the possibilities for the different three party coalitions, since no two parties could form a majority in the Tweede Kamer together. This resulted in a coalition of the Christian Democratic Appeal, the Labour Party (PvdA), and the ChristianUnion. Together these three parties will have a majority of 79 seats out of 150 seats in the Tweede Kamer. In the second information round Herman Wijffels was the "informateur" to negotiate between the Jan Peter Balkenende (CDA), Wouter Bos (PvdA), and André Rouvoet (CU) to reach a coalition agreement. The motto of the agreement they reached on 7 February 2007 was "Living together, working together".

The appointment of Jan Peter Balkenende as "formateur" by the queen on 9 February 2007 was the start of the cabinet formation. [nl cite news
url = http://www.nos.nl/nos/artikelen/2007/02/art000001C74C011F6335E9.html
title = Balkenende benoemd tot formateur
date = 9 February 2007
publisher = NOS.nl
accessdate = 2007-02-10
] Four days later on 13 February a preliminary composition of the cabinet was announced.nl cite news
title = Kabinet Balkenende 4 rond
publisher = nu.nl
date = 2007-02-13
url = http://www.nu.nl/news.jsp?n=975720&c=11
accessdate = 2007-02-14
]

On 22 February the cabinet members were sworn in by Queen Beatrix.

Composition

The cabinet consists of 16 ministers and 11 junior ministers ("staatssecretaris"). These positions are divided among the coalition members according to their size in parliament: CDA supplies 8 ministers and 4 junior ministers, PvdA 6 ministers and 6 junior ministers, and ChristianUnion supplies 2 ministers and 1 junior minister.

Policy

The coalition agreement titled "Living together, working together" was presented on 7 February in a press conference by Balkenende, Bos, Rouvoet. It is structured into six commitments of the new cabinet. [nl cite web
publisher = NOS News
title = "Coalitieakkoord tussen de Tweede Kamerfracties van CDA, PvdA en ChristenUnie"
url = http://nos.nl/gfx/nosjournaal/documenten/regeerakkoord2007.pdf
format = pdf
date = 7 February 2007
accessdate = 2007-02-07
] [nl cite news
title = Coalition agreement summary
publisher = NOS News
url = http://www.nos.nl/nosjournaal/dossiers/kabinet2007/regeerakkoord.html
date = 7 February 2007
accessdate = 2007-02-07
] If a proposal was included in a party's electoral manifesto, this is mentioned as well:

* An active and constructive role in the world, which is characterized by these policies:
** Continued investments into the Joint Strike Fighter (as the CDA proposed).
** The new cabinet is not in favour of a new referendum on the European Constitution, which was voted down in 2005, but will consider new initiatives (both the CDA and CU opposed the referendum initially).

* An innovative, competitive and enterpreneurial economy, which is characterized by these policies:
** 1 billion increased spending on education (as all parties proposed).
** Privatization of Schiphol airport is shelved (as the CU and the PvdA proposed).

* A durable environment, which is characterized by these policies:
** 800 million euros additional spending on renewable energy (as both the PvdA and the CU proposed).
** Pollution will be taxed more heavily (as both the PvdA and the CU proposed).
** A tax on airline tickets totalling 350 million euros (as all parties proposed).
** No new investments in nuclear energy (as the CU and the PvdA proposed).

* Social cohesion, which is characterized by these policies:
** A reform of the system of basic state pensions: people who have private pensions of 15,000 euros and higher and who stop working before the age of 65 will pay an additional tax as of 2011. People who work beyond 65 receive tax breaks. This measure should guarantee an affordable basic state pension (AOW) despite trends in population ageing (a compromise between the PvdA, which wanted to tax all rich elderly and the CDA which wanted incentives to make people work longer).
** Public social housing will not be liberalised, rent rates may be raised only in line with inflation (as the PvdA proposed).
** The tax deduction on mortgage interest payments remains unchanged (as the CDA proposed).
** Investments in problem areas in the large cities to make them "beautiful neighbourhoods" (as the PvdA proposed).
** Re-implementation of the subsidized jobs-scheme for the unemployed (as the PvdA proposed).
** Childcare spending totalling 700 million euros (free child care was a PvdA election promise and opposed by CDA).

* Safety, stability and respect, which is characterized by these policies:
** Reduction of all crimes by 25%.
** A ban on burqas and other face covering clothing for security reasons (as the CDA proposed).

* Government and a servile public sector [Overheid en dienstbare publieke sector]
** In response to opposition to extravagant wages earned by some top civil servants and top level managers of quangos, sometimes 5 times that of the prime minister, no one will be allowed an income greater than the prime minister's. In order to accomplish this, the prime minister's salary will be increased.
** Cutting the number of civil servants to save 750 million euros.
** Women seeking an abortion are to expect an additional waiting period between first consultation and actual procedure on top of the already mandatory 5 days waiting period (as the CU proposed).
** Minor reforms of the health care-system, including the abolishment of the "no claim" and the re-inclusion of dental care into the basic insurance.
** Increased taxation on cigarettes and liquor, smoke-free bars and restaurants by 2011.
** A general pardon for asylum seekers who entered the Netherlands before the new Asylum Law came into effect (as both the CU and the PvdA proposed).
** The coalition wants to have a budget surplus of 1% of the GDP by 2011 with a projected 2% annual economic growth (as all parties proposed).

References

External links

* [http://www.government.nl/bewindslieden/ Cabinet] at the Government of the Netherlands


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