Prime Minister Balkenende says goodbye
Caretaker Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said goodbye to his staff “with a little nostalgia” on his last day in office. On Thursday he will hand over the job to his successor, conservative VVD party leader Mark Rutte.
“My dominant feeling is that I’m grateful to have been able to do this for more than eight years,” said Mr Balkenende in his leaving speech. “Being prime minister is an exceptional position into which I have always put my heart and soul.”
Mr Balkenende said his lowest points were the “matters of life and death”. “What has made the deepest impression on me is the soldiers we have lost in Iraq and Afghanistan and the victims of senseless violence.”
On Thursday Mr Rutte’s centre-right coalition with the Christian Democrats will officially come to power. The minority cabinet will rely on the support in parliament of anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders’ far-right Freedom Party.
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide