What to expect in 2007

5th January 2007, Comments 0 comments

A new government, a royal birth and the trial of the century. These are just some of what we can expect in 2007. Aaron Gray-Block writes.

New government

The most pressing issue facing the Netherlands at the dawn on 2007 was the political vacuum yet to be filled by a new coalition government.

Though the Christian Democrat CDA and Liberal VVD caretaker minority government is managing day-to-day affairs, the country does not have a government with an electoral mandate.

The CDA, Labour PvdA and ChristenUnie (CU) have agreed to push ahead with coalition talks and it is hoped that a new Cabinet will be sworn in by Queen Beatrix before the 7 March provincial elections.

CDA leader Jan Peter Balkenende is expected to be appointed prime minister to lead his fourth cabinet (Balkenende IV). He will be buoyed by a strong economy thanks to his government's severe austerity measures in recent years.

PvdA leader Wouter Bos could be named his unlikely deputy and will likely take on an important ministerial portfolio. It is possible he will be appointed Finance Minister, given that he served as finance state secretary under Gerrit Zalm.

Conservative CU leader Andre Rouvoet might demand the creation of a new portfolio (Family Minister) to be filled by himself, but his request is unlikely to win backing. However, he will be given a ministerial post.

The CU is also realistic that its wish to reverse legislated rights around abortion, euthanasia and gay marriages (championed by the PvdA) will not be met, but it will be keen to place these contentious issues back up for public debate.

The CU will enter into a coalition government for the first time.

At first glance, the combination of the CDA and CU could give rise to conservative policy decisions. But the CU is also left-leaning on social issues, shown by its backing of a general amnesty for long-term asylum seekers.

And stung into action by the strong gains of the Socialist SP, the PvdA will want to reassert itself as the nation's leading social democratic party.

The result will be a centrist government.

Maxima pregnant

Crown Prince Willem Alexander and Princess Maxima are expecting their third child in the second half of April.

The new baby is fourth in line to the Dutch throne, after Prince Willem-Alexander and the crown princesses Amalia and her sister Alexia.

Solid economic growth

The Dutch economy has continued to gather strength after the

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