New Dutch PM presents his cabinet

14th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

The new Dutch Prime Minister, conservative liberal leader Mark Rutte, unveiled Thursday the cabinet of his coalition minority government, which is formally backed by anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders.

"The prime minister and his cabinet ministers were sworn in" by Queen Beatrix in a private ceremony at her working palace in The Hague, government spokesman Henk Brons told AFP.

After the ceremony, Rutte, 43, and his 54-year-old deputy, Maxime Verhagen, flanked the queen for an official photograph on the palace steps with the 10 other cabinet ministers.

Rutte is the first prime minister from a Dutch liberal party, the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), since 1918.

His coalition of VVD and Christian Democratic Action (CDA) commands only 52 seats out of 150 in the Dutch lower house of parliament, but has made a deal with Wilders' Party for Freedom (PVV) for the support of its 24 MPs to pass policy through parliament.

The PVV, which remains outside the government, will get a say in policy formulation in return.

Wilders, who campaigns for an end to Muslim immigration, a ban on new mosques and a head scarf tax, went on trial in Amsterdam last Monday on charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims.

Announcing his cooperation pact with the new government this month, Wilders, 47, said Rutte's cabinet would introduce a burqa ban and halve immigration.

The new government comprises six ministers each from the VVD and CDA, including Rutte (general affairs) and Verhagen (economy, agriculture and innovation).

The VVD, which narrowly won June 9 elections, provided the new foreign minister, 65-year-old Uri Rosenthal, and the justice minister, Ivo Opstelten, 66.

The CDA got the portfolios of finance, filled by 41-year-old incumbent Jan Kees de Jager, defence (Hans Hillen, 63) and Immigration (Gerd Leers, 59).

The eight deputy ministers are to be sworn in later in the afternoon.

© 2010 AFP

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