Jan Peter Balkenende

Jan Peter Balkenende

Jan Pieter "Jan Peter" Balkenende (born May 7, 1956) is a Dutch politician of the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA). He served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from July 22, 2002 until October 14, 2010.

He previously served as a Member of the House of Representatives from May 19, 1998 until July 22, 2002. After then CDA Party leader and Parliamentary leader in the House of Representatives Jaap de Hoop Scheffer stepped down after an internal power struggle, between him and then CDA Party Chair Marnix van Rij. Balkenende succeed him in both positions, and became the CDA Lijsttrekker for the Dutch general election of 2002. The CDA became the surprising winner of the election, gaining 14 seats (from 29 to 43) and becoming the largest party in the House of Representatives. This success was in part owed to Balkenende and to his neutral attitude in the debate with LPF leader Pim Fortuyn, for not having participated in the supposed ‘demonization’ by the political Left. Fortuyn was assassinated during the national election campaign on May 6, 2002.

Balkenende became Prime Minister of the Netherlands, leading the Cabinet Balkenende I but it collapsed after just 86 days in office because of internal conflicts within the LPF that destabilised the government. After the Dutch general election of 2003, Balkenende who again as CDA Lijsttrekker gained 1 seat and formed the new Cabinet Balkenende II. The cabinet fell on June 30, 2006 after the D66, the smallest coalition party withdrew its support of the cabinet over the way Minister for Integration and Immigration Rita Verdonk had handled the crisis around the naturalization of Member of the House of Representatives Ayaan Hirsi Ali. A rump cabinet Balkenende III was formed and stayed in office until the Dutch general election of 2006. Balkenende again as Lijsttrekker lost three seats but the CDA remained the largest party with 41 seats. After the cabinet formation, the new Cabinet Balkenende IV took office on February 22, 2007. The cabinet fell on February 20, 2010 as the result of disagreement between CDA and Labour Party over the extension of ISAF mission in Afghanistan. For the Dutch general election of 2010, Balkenende for a fourth time as Lijsttrekker resigned his position as Party leader taking political responsibility after the CDA's disappointing results in the election. He remaind as Prime Minister of the Netherlands until the new Cabinet Rutte was installed on October 14, 2010.

After his premiership, Balkenende retired from active politics and became a partner at the professional services firm Ernst & Young and returned as a professor of political science at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

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