Jan Peter Balkenende

Jan Pieter "Jan Peter" Balkenende Jr. KmstkNO CSG (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈjɑn ˈpeːtər ˈbɑlkənˌɛndə] (listen); born 7 May 1956) is a Dutch politician of the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) party and jurist who served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 22 July 2002 to 14 October 2010.

Jan Peter Balkenende
Prime Minister of the Netherlands
In office
22 July 2002  14 October 2010
See list
  • Eduard Bomhoff
    Johan Remkes
    Roelf de Boer
    Gerrit Zalm
    Thom de Graaf
    Laurens Jan Brinkhorst
    Wouter Bos
    André Rouvoet
Preceded byWim Kok
Succeeded byMark Rutte
Leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal
In office
1 October 2001  9 June 2010
Preceded byJaap de Hoop Scheffer
Succeeded byMaxime Verhagen
Leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal in the House of Representatives
In office
30 November 2006  9 February 2007
Preceded byMaxime Verhagen
Succeeded byMaxime Verhagen
In office
30 January 2003  21 May 2003
Preceded byMaxime Verhagen
Succeeded byMaxime Verhagen
In office
1 October 2001  11 July 2002
Preceded byJaap de Hoop Scheffer
Succeeded byMaxime Verhagen
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
30 November 2006  22 February 2007
In office
30 January 2003  27 May 2003
In office
19 May 1998  22 July 2002
Personal details
Jan Pieter Balkenende Jr.

(1956-05-07) 7 May 1956
Biezelinge, Netherlands
Political partyChristian Democratic Appeal (1980–present)
Bianca Hoogendijk
(m. 1996)
Children1 daughter
EducationFree University Amsterdam (LLB, BA, LLM, MA, PhD)

Balkenende studied History and Law at the Free University Amsterdam obtaining Master of Arts and law degrees and worked as a legal counsel for the academic council of his alma mater before finishing his thesis and graduated as a PhD in governmental studies and worked as a professor of Christian theology at his alma mater from April 1993 until May 2002. After the election of 1998 Balkenende was elected as a Member of the House of Representatives on 19 May 1998 and served as a frontbencher and spokesperson for Finances and as deputy parliamentary leader. After Party Leader and Parliamentary leader Jaap de Hoop Scheffer stepped down before a upcoming election Balkenende announced his candidacy and was selected as his successor on 1 October 2001. For the election of 2002 Balkenende served as Lijsttrekker (top candidate) and after a cabinet formation with the Pim Fortuyn List and the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy formed the Cabinet Balkenende I and became Prime Minister of the Netherlands taking office 22 July 2002.

The cabinet Balkenende I fell just 87 days into its term. For the election of 2003 Balkenende again served as Lijsttrekker and following a cabinet formation with the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy and Democrats 66 they formed the Cabinet Balkenende II and continued as Prime Minister. This second cabinet fell on 30 June 2006 was replaced with the caretaker Cabinet Balkenende III on 7 July 2006. For the election of 2006 Balkenende once again served as Lijsttrekker and following a cabinet formation with Labour Leader Wouter Bos and fellow Christian-democrats formed the Cabinet Balkenende IV and continued as Prime Minister for another term. This fourth cabinet fell exactly 3 years into its term. For the election of 2010 Balkenende once again served as Lijsttrekker but suffered a large defeat and announced his retirement and stepped down as Leader on 9 June 2010. Balkenende left office following the installation of the Cabinet Rutte I on 14 October 2010.

Balkenende retired from active politics at 54 and became active in the private sector as a corporate director and also works as a professor of Governance, Institutions and Internationalization at the Erasmus University Rotterdam since December 2010. During his premiership, his cabinets were responsible for several major reforms to the education system, immigration laws and reducing the deficit following the financial crisis of 2008. He is the fourth longest-serving Prime Minister after World War II and his premiership is consistently regarded both by scholars and the public to have been above average.[1][2][3]

Early life

Jan Pieter Balkenende Jr. was born on 7 May 1956 in Biezelinge in the province of Zeeland in a family belonging to the Reformed faith, the son of Jan Pieter Balkenende Sr. a cereal grains merchant and Thona Johanna Sandee, a teacher. During his childhood, Balkenende was an active supporter of the Dutch football team PSV Eindhoven, along with his father he frequented many matches. He also regularly visited the local music school and theatre. Balkenende went to a Reformed Protestant primary school in Kapelle. He attended secondary school at the "Christian Lyceum for Zeeland" in Goes, graduating in 1974.[4] He studied at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, where he received a Master of Arts degree in history in 1980, a Master of Laws degree in Law in 1982, and finally a PhD in law in 1992.[4]

Balkenende resides with his wife, Bianca Hoogendijk, and his daughter, Amelie, in Capelle aan den IJssel, a suburb of Rotterdam. During his tenure as Prime Minister, he did not use the Catshuis, the formal residency of the Prime Minister.

Early political career

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and Prime Minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi in Moscow on 31 May 2003.
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and President of Russia Vladimir Putin at the Binnenhof on 25 November 2004.
Chancellor of Austria Wolfgang Schüssel and Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende at a European People's Party summit in Meise on 15 June 2006.
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and President of the United States George W. Bush in the Oval Office on 5 June 2008.
Prime Minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker and Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende at a European People's Party congress in Warsaw on 29 April 2009.
First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and President of the United States Barack Obama at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 23 September 2009.
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev and President of France Nicolas Sarkozy at the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C. on 14 April 2010.
Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and Prime Minister of Belgium Yves Leterme European People's Party summit in Meise on 16 June 2010.

He began his career on the staff of the research institute of the CDA and as a city councilman in Amstelveen. In 1992 he received his PhD with a thesis on "Governance regulation and social organisations" (Overheidsregelgeving en maatschappelijke organisaties), a strongly inspired by the Communitarian ideas of Amitai Etzioni.[5] One year later in 1993, he became an extraordinary professor of Christian-Social Thought at the Free University of Amsterdam.

Balkenende first entered the House of Representatives on 19 May 1998 while the CDA was in opposition. He became the CDA's financial spokesman and was also involved with social affairs, justice, and domestic affairs. In this role he advocated a substantial reduction of the national debt and sound public finances.

He was elected Chairman of the CDA parliamentary fraction on 1 October 2001, succeeding Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. On 3 November 2001, he was appointed lijsttrekker for the CDA in the tumultuous May 2002 parliamentary elections. These elections restored the CDA's former position as the largest political party in the House of Representatives.

Prime Minister of the Netherlands

First cabinet

On 4 July 2002 Queen Beatrix asked Balkenende to form a new government after the general elections following the resignation of Prime Minister Wim Kok. The coalition cabinet included the Pim Fortuyn List (LPF) party, whose leader (Pim Fortuyn) was assassinated just days before the election. It collapsed after just 87 days in office because of internal conflicts within the LPF that destabilised the government.

Second cabinet

After early elections in 2003 Balkenende formed his second government with the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), the liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and the progressive liberal D66. Once again leader of a centre-right coalition, Balkenende's policies centred on reform of the Dutch public services, social security, pre-pension facilities, public health, reducing crime, a tough immigration policy and historically large cuts in public spending. The measures gave rise to large public anger and bad results in opinion polls for his CDA party. While his party remained the largest Dutch delegation in the European Parliament after the European elections, beating the general expectation of a huge loss in parliamentary seats, the party suffered strong losses during Dutch municipal elections of 2006, losing their position as the largest party in many municipalities. Despite his unpopularity among Dutch voters (polls in 2006 showed that only 26–33% of the voters had confidence in him as prime minister), his position as leader of the CDA remained stable. In the beginning of 2006, some CDA members tried to replace Balkenende as leader with Agriculture Minister Cees Veerman. Veerman did not accept the proposition and offered his support to Balkenende. Balkenende's popularity recovered since then, surpassing that of his main competitor Wouter Bos in the autumn of 2006. By then, 53% preferred Balkenende as Prime Minister of the Netherlands while 40% preferred Bos.[6] The switch in public opinion is sometimes explained by the steady recovery of the Dutch economy during the last year of his administration and the positive effects of the reformed policy of the Balkenende cabinet, combined with declining confidence in Bos as a good alternative for the position of Prime Minister.

On 1 July 2004 Balkenende took up the rotating presidency of the European Union.

Third cabinet

On 30 June 2006, the Democrats 66, the smallest coalition party, withdrew its support of the government over the way Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk had handled the crisis around the naturalisation of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a member of the House of Representatives. Balkenende resigned for the second time as Prime Minister of the Netherlands, announced early elections and presented his third government a week later. This rump cabinet, formed of a minority coalition of CDA and VVD, stayed in office until the elections of 22 November 2006.

Fourth cabinet

Though his old coalition partners VVD and D66 fared badly in the parliamentary elections of 2006, Balkenende managed to defend the dominant position of his CDA. Needing alternative coalition partners to form a new majority government, he formed a social-Christian coalition with the Labour Party (PvdA) and the orthodox-Protestant Christian Union. The Fourth Balkenende cabinet was formed after Balkenende was appointed formateur by Queen Beatrix on 9 February 2007.[7] His cabinet was announced on 13 February and was scheduled to be in office until 2011, but it fell in the early morning of 20 February 2010 as the result of disagreement between the majority of the parliament and the coalition partners CDA and PvdA over the extension of the Dutch ISAF-mission in Afghanistan.[8] In contrast to the formation of a new caretaker cabinet with full responsibility (Balkenende III after the fall of Balkenende II), Balkenende IV continued as a demissionary cabinet, a caretaker cabinet with limited responsibility.

2010 election and resignation

Despite serious criticism by former prime ministers from the CDA, Balkenende was the Christian Democratic Appeal lijsttrekker for the Dutch general election of 2010.[9] Balkenende raised mild controversy during his campaign for the 2010 Dutch elections. While appearing in a television show, Balkenende was asked by a female presenter what parties he would most likely form a coalition with. Balkenende first gave evasive answers, then when asked again by the presenter, responded saying "U kijkt zo lief" (English: "You look so cute"). The comment was regarded as sexist and criticised by several people, including Opzij chief-editor Margriet van der Linden and GroenLinks leader Femke Halsema (who stated that "[the prime minister] deserves a knee to the groin" (in Dutch: "een knietje verdient")).[10] Balkenende apologised for the comment later.[11]

On 9 June 2010, Balkenende resigned his position as leader of the CDA as well as his seat in the newly elected parliament, taking political responsibility for the CDA's disappointing election results in the 2010 general election.[12]

Other issues

In 2004, during his second cabinet, Balkenende was diagnosed with necrotising fasciitis. He was treated through surgical debridement and made a full recovery after several weeks in hospital.

On 4 June 2005, the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel De Gucht said in the Flemish newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws (The Latest News) that "Balkenende is a mix of Harry Potter and a petty rigid bourgeois mentality". This comparison caused a small diplomatic controversy, and the Belgian ambassador had to apologise to Ben Bot, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs.[13] Retired deputy prime minister Hans Wiegel commented he preferred Harry Potter to the Manneken Pis.

Balkenende has a close relationship with the Dutch people from Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles. He has visited several Keti Koti celebrations in recent years.

Balkenende's nicknames were "JP", "Bak ellende" (bin of misery) and "Harry Potter", among others.[14]

He was a member of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and since 1 May 2004 a member of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands.

Honours and decorations

Foreign honours
Ribbon barHonourDate
Grand Cross of the Order of the Southern Cross of Brazil
Grand Cross of the Order of Bernardo O'Higgins of Chile
Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland 29 August 2012[15]
Commander Grand Cross of the Order of the Polar Star of Sweden
Grand Cordon of the Order of Independence of Jordan
Companion of the Order of the Star of Ghana
Commander of the Order of Leopold of Belgium 8 July 2016[16]
Knight of Honor of the Order of St. George 26 October 2019
National honours
Ribbon barHonourDate
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Orange-Nassau 23 November 2010


  • Golden Honorary Medal, of the municipality Amstelveen (Netherlands, 30 May 1998)

Honorary degrees

  • Honorary doctorate in Laws, Hope College (Holland, Michigan, United States, 7 September 2012)
  • Honorary doctorate in Human Letters, Hofstra University (Hempstead, New York, United States, 22 May 2011)
  • Honorary doctorate in Sociology, Yonsei University (Seoul, South Korea, 27 April 2010)
  • Honorary doctorate in Systems, Design and Management, Keio University (Tokyo, Japan, 27 oktober 2009)
  • Honorary doctorate in Theology, Károli Gáspár University of the Hungarian Reformed Church (Budapest, Hungary, 10 October 2005)


  1. (in Dutch) Willem Drees gekozen tot ‘Dé premier na WO II’, Geschiedenis24.nl, 15 January 2006
  2. (in Dutch) NRC-enquête: Drees en Lubbers beste premiers sinds 1900, NRC Handelsblad, 28 September 2013
  3. (in Dutch) I&O Research, I&O Research, 13 March 2020
  4. "Mr. Dr. J.P. Balkenende" (in Dutch). Leiden University. Retrieved 7 June 2007.
  5. "The Political Center under Pressure: Elections in the Netherlands" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 February 2008.
  6. "Balkenende als premier populairder dan Bos" (in Dutch). Elsevier. 10 September 2006. Archived from the original on 10 February 2008.
  7. "Balkenende benoemd tot formateur" (in Dutch). NOS.nl. 9 February 2007. Archived from the original on 11 February 2007.
  8. Tyler, John (20 February 2010). "Dutch government falls over Afghanistan mission". Radio Netherlands Worldwide. Archived from the original on 23 February 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
  9. (in Dutch) Balkenende weer lijsttrekker CDA
  10. "Balkenende excuseert zich voor 'u kijkt zo lief'" (in Dutch). Nederlands Dagblad. 27 May 2010.
  11. "Wat zeg je terug op "U kijkt zo lief"?" (in Dutch). NRC Next. 27 May 2010.
  12. De Telegraaf. "Balkenende weg als CDA-leider". Retrieved 9 June 2010.
  13. "Belgian Potter jibe upsets Dutch". BBC News. 6 June 2005.
  14. van Gorp, Cyntha (18 May 2008). "Kijk, het is zo, je hebt te maken met JP, het is goed om dat nog eens te zeggen". Trouw (in Dutch). Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  15. Decoration of former Dutch Prime Minister H.E. Jan Peter Balkenende – website Embassy of the Republic of Poland in The Hague
  16. De Telegraph article (in Dutch).
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