Clean slate

The new Dutch government can finally get down to business and has a pretty clean slate to work on. The fresh-faced ministers are already beginning to make their personalities felt.

Thursday night’s TV current affairs shows were full of them – it was, after all, the first time they had been allowed to speak in public. Armed with a pocket full of tips about dealing with the press (junior finance minister Jan Kees de Jager has admitted having two hours media training) the new ministers were warned not to make any leaks.
So instead, new integration and urban renewal minister Ella Vogelaar – who now has the bizarre title minister of living, neighbourhoods and integration – decided to sow confusion about the dreaded burqa… will there be a partial ban or won’t there? Only Vogelaar seems to know.
Predictably, anti-immigration MP Geert Wilders popped up straight away to say he will introduce his own bill calling for a ban. Yawn. Still, at least everyone now knows who Vogelaar is.
And then there is Ab Klink, the new health minister that no-one had ever heard of until last night. He has done the unthinkable and said he plans to ban smoking in bars and cafés this year. The catering sector is up in arms already, and Klink is now firmly established as a minister who intends to get things done.

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