Former ministers to fill the gaps in cabinet

Former ministers Ernst Hirsch Ballin and Pieter Winsemius have been drafted in to take over the justice and planning ministries following the resignations of Piet Hein Donner and Sybilla Dekker over the Schiphol fire report.

Hirsch Ballin (top) was justice minister between 1989 and 1994 while Winsemius headed the environment ministry from 1982 to 1986. Other ministers yesterday paid tribute to Donner and Dekker, saying they would be missed. Only integration minister Rita Verdonk, who was heavily protected by security personnel, refused to make any comment. Verdonk has survived several debates in which she was criticised for her harsh treatment of asylum-seekers. The Schiphol fire killed 11 people awaiting deportation.
Meanwhile the Volkskrant reports that no fewer than 13 ministers and state secretaries have resigned during the four-year reign of prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende. Three left following a vote of no confidence and another three because of political squabbles. Two stepped down following a scandal of some sort and another two had better offers elsewhere – Mark Rutte who decided he would rather lead the parliamentary Liberal VVD party and Jaap de Hoop-Scheffer who is now Nato secretary general). Only one left for principle reasons – centre-left D66’s Thom de Graaf decided he could not stay on after his proposal for introducing elected mayors was rejected by the upper house.

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