Speculation mounts as cabinet takes shape

Christian Democrat leader Jan Peter Balkenende continued putting together his fourth cabinet on Monday, saying he hopes to complete the job by the end of next week. The division of cabinet posts is already known: the CDA will get eight ministers and five junior ministers, Labour six and four, ChristenUnie two and one.

The top jobs will go to Balkenende (prime minister), PvdA (Labour) leader Wouter Bos (finance minister and deputy prime minister), ChristenUnie’s André Rouvoet (deputy prime minister and probably minister for youth and family).
The CDA’s Maxime Verhagen is almost certain to become foreign minister. Other names considered definites are Amsterdam’s council executive Ahmed Aboutaleb (integration) and CU senator senator Eimert van Middelkoop (possibly defence).
The Telegraaf says former justice minister Piet Hein Donner, who resigned over the Schiphol fire scandal, is likely to get the social affairs job. In return, the paper says, the PvdA will get both the environment and home affairs ministries.
The CDA’s René Smit, formerly in charge of port affairs on Rotterdam city council, is tipped for the economic affairs job while Ernst Hirsch Ballin, who took over at the justice department when Donner resigned, is likely to stay in place.
Balkenende says he wants to decide on Labour’s ministerial posts by the coming weekend in time for its party congress.

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