Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkendende has unveiled his fourth cabinet after an apparently smooth process to find a total of 27 ministers. The new government is a centre-left combination of the Christian Democrats (CDA), PvdA (Labour) and ChristenUnie (CU).
Many of the names had already been leaked, but there were some surprise appointments.
Education Minister Maria van der Hoeven has been moved to the heavyweight post of Economic Affairs. ‘Bizarre,’ one source said. Her replacement by Ronald Plasterk, an outspoken columnist and atheist, surprised many commentators, given the involvement of the creationist ChristenUnie in the cabinet.
Among the junior ministerial positions, Amsterdam City Council Executive Ahmed Aboutaleb – widely tipped for a full ministerial role – was given the junior job at Social Affairs.
Of the 27 ministers, all but three come from outside Balkenende’s third cabinet. Fifteen are sitting MPs, meaning new people will be drafted into parliament to replace them. Eleven of the 27 posts have been filled by women and two ministers have an ethnic minority background.
The new ministers will all meet Balkendende for talks in the coming days before he formally presents his cabinet to the Queen, probably next week.
Deputy prime minister and finance: Wouter Bos (PvdA),43, left Shell to become an MP in 1998, junior finance minister in last Kok cabinet. Party leader since 2002. Studied at Vrije University Amsterdam, like Balkenende and Rouvoet
Deputy prime minister and youth & family: André Rouvoet (CU), 45, much praised as a debater. MP since 1994 and party leader since 2002.
Foreign affairs: Maxime Verhagen (CDA), 50, Balkenende’s main support through several cabinet crises. MP since 1994, specialising in foreign affairs
Development aid: Bert Koenders (PvdA), 48, MP since 1997 focusing on foreign affairs. Charged with explaining party’s complicated position on Iraq in 2003.
Justice: Ernst Hirsch Ballin (CDA), 56. Roman Catholic. Resigned as justice minister in 1994 over IRT drugs-smuggling affair. Returned to cabinet after Donner resigned last year
Home affairs: Guusje ter Horst (PvdA), 54, former Amsterdam council executive and mayor of Nijmegen until January this year. Caught drunk-driving in 2006.
Education, culture & science: Ronald Plasterk (PvdA), 50, molecular geneticist, staunch athiest and opponent of intelligent design.
Defence: Eimert van Middelkoop (CU), 58, MP between 1989 and 2002 and in the Senate since 2003. Opposed to Turkish membership of EU
Environment: Jacqueline Cramer (PvdA), 55, Shell supervisory board member. Academic and independent advisor. Keen on using technology to solve problems.
Integration & urban renewal: Ella Vogelaar (PvdA), 57, deputy chairman of FNV trade union federation until 2000. Chair of Unilever’s supervisory board since 2003. Chair of government integration task force from 2000 to 2002.
Transport & water management:Camiel Eurlings (CDA), 33, currently MEP and in charge of European Parliament’s committee on Turkey’s efforts to join the EU.
Economic affairs: Maria van der Hoeven (CDA), 57, education minister in the last two cabinets. Gave schools more independence.
Agriculture, nature & food safety: Gerda Verburg (CDA), 49, Former senior Christian trade union official and MP with focus on social affairs. Farmer’s daughter.
Social affairs & employment: Piet Hein Donner (CDA), 58, Justice minister in first two Balkenende cabinets, survived several no-confidence votes but resigned over damning Schiphol fire report.
Health, welfare & sport: Ab Klink (CDA), 48, director of CDA think-tank. Senator since 2003.
Junior ministers (staatsecretarissen):
European affairs: Frans Timmermans (PvdA), MP
Justice: Nebahat Albayrak (PvdA), MP
Health: Jet Bussemaker (PvdA), MP
Education: Sharon Dijksma (PvdA), MP and deputy parliamentary party leader
Economic affairs: Frank Heemskerk (PvdA), Former MP
Social affairs: Ahmed Aboutaleb (PvdA), Amsterdam council executive
Education: Marja van Bijsterveldt (CDA), CDA party chairman
Finance: Jan Kees de Jager (CDA), CDA party treasurer
Home affairs: Ank Bijleveld van Hof (CDA), Mayor of Twente
Defence: Cees van der Knaap (CDA), currently junior minister for defence
Transport and water management: Tineke Huizinga (CU), MP