Something to celebrate

Get ready for a barrage of articles marking the first year of prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende’s fourth cabinet on February 22.
Can it really be a year since Balkenende and his two sidekicks Wouter Bos (Labour) and André Rouvoet (orthodox Christian) shared a news conference and presented their coalition agreement Working Together, Living Together?
Ministers then embarked on their 100-day tour of the country, an expensive publicity-seeking exercise to find out what people really wanted.
Since then there has been a lot of pussyfooting around with road pricing schemes and tinkering with health insurance. The housing corporations and housing minister are still at loggerheads over urban renewal and efforts to reform redundancy law failed completely.
But there have been successes too. Firstly, the cabinet brought in a long-awaited amnesty for thousands of refugees, ending the deportation of children born and brought up in the Netherlands. It is pressing ahead with a ban on smoking in cafés and bars from this July, much to the catering and marijuana industry’s fury. It has also done the decent thing and decided to keep Dutch troops in Afghanistan.
And in the face of so much opposition at home, all three moves are something to celebrate.

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