New Dutch govt sworn in 299 days after election

by IANS |

The Hague, Jan 11 (IANS) Almost one year after the resignation of the previous government and 10 months after the last elections, the fourth cabinet of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was sworn in by King Willem-Alexander.

Just like the previous one, the new coalition government consists of Rutte's People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), the centre-leftist party Democrats 66 (D66) and the smaller centrist party the Christian Union (CU), reports Xinhua news agency.

According to Rutte, his new group of ministers is not comparable with the previous one and has "new impetus".

One of the new faces is the new Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport Ernst Kuipers on behalf of D66. Until now, he was the CEO of the Erasmus Medical Centre and the chairman of the National Emergency Medicine Network (LNAZ).

Kuipers succeeds Hugo de Jonge, who, as health minister, has led the Dutch Covid-19 policy over the past two years. De Jonge (CDA) moves to the new post of Minister of Housing and Spatial Planning.

In addition, Rob Jetten (D66) takes on the new post of Minister of Climate and Energy, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Sigrid Kaag will be the new finance minister and Wopke Hoekstra moves from the Ministry of Finance to be the new foreign minister.

Kaag was not present at the inauguration on Monday as the D66 leader had to stay at home due to a positive Covid-19 test. So the King swore Kaag via video link, which happened for the first time in Dutch history.

The former government with the same four parties stepped down on January 15, 2021 as a result of the so-called child benefits tax scandal, in which innocent parents were wrongly accused of fraud.

Since that time the government served in a caretaker capacity.

From March 15 to 17, 2021 the general elections took place, in which Rutte's VVD was declared the winner with 34 of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives, or the lower house of the parliament.

D66 ended second with 24 seats in Parliament.

Together with CDA (15 seats) and CU (five seats), the new government has a majority of 78 seats.

After long, difficult negotiations, the parties reached an agreement on December 13, 2021.

Now, 299 days later, the new government has been installed.

It was the longest formation in Dutch history, breaking the record of 225 formation days before the inauguration of the previous government in 2017.

According to tradition, the new ministers took an oath, promising their allegiance to the Dutch constitution and to discharge their duties faithfully.

After the swearing in on Monday, the ministers were traditionally photographed together, this time on the steps of Noordeinde Palace in the Hague.

Normally, that photo is taken at the Huis ten Bosch Palace, but there was too little space there to comply with the Covid-19 rules.

For the first time in parliamentary history, the government has exactly as many female and male ministers.

Before that, men were in the majority.

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