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Dutch government resigned over Afghanistan: new elections in June

Those who are interested in the political situation in the Netherlands will certainly have taken notice of recent developments. The Dutch government – a coalition formed by three parties, CDA (‘mainstream’ Christian democratic party), PvdA (social democrats) and CU (Christian democrats too, yet more heavily religious than the CDA) - had to resign on 20 February 2010 for failing to reach an agreement as to whether or not continue Dutch military support in Afghanistan.

This administration was the fourth to be led by Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, and it was also the fourth administration that was unable to last the full four years. However, Balkenende is a survivor, as Dr. Gerrit Voerman argues, and a 5th Balkenende administration (Balkenende V) may not be unlikely at all. >

Committee Davids on Iraq

Only a few weeks before the government resigned, the coalition had barely survived the so-called Davids Report, named after committee chairman Willibrord Davids, former research assistant at the University of Groningen. In this review the committee Davids investigated the Dutch government’s 2003 decision to join the ‘coalition of the willing’ and to give political (not military) support to the US and UK war plans on Iraq. Two of the report’s main conclusions were that

1) there was insufficient UN support to engage in the war on Iraq and

2) that the Prime Minister had shown little leadership at the time. These conclusions were hard to accept for current Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkende, as he was also the Prime Minister then (Balkenende II). Although the Davids report led to a government crisis as well, the parties were able to avoid breaking up.

University of Groningen alumnus Job Cohen new party leader and candidate for Prime Minister

After the resignation, PvdA leader (and former vice Prime Minister) Wouter Bos decided to step down, in order to devote more time to his family and young children. The party leadership was smoothly transferred to University of Groningen alumnus and elder statesman Job Cohen, former mayor of Amsterdam and now candidate for Prime Minister. Cohen was minister in two cabinets before, as well as university rector and professor of Law. It was also for family reasons that young and promising Camiel Eurlings - mentioned as a possible successor of current CDA leader Jan Peter Balkenende – decided to leave politics. Eurlings explained that he wants to start a family. After the local elections on 3 March, Agnes Kant, leader of the Socialist Party, decided to resign as well, mainly because of disappointing results for her party.

Last modified:15 June 2020 12.41 p.m.