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Dutch public gives Balkenende a ‘lousy’ rating

29 April 2004

AMSTERDAM — The majority of the public are totally disenchanted with Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and would like to wash their hands of him and his 12-month-old coalition government, a new opinion poll has found.

Christian Democrat CDA leader Balkenende is not a strong leader, not inspiring and not an impassioned personality, said a majority of the 1,400 people, aged 18 to 65, who took part in the survey, news agency ANP reported on Thursday.

The opinion poll was conducted by research agency Motivaction on behalf of the GDP news agency which represents regional newspapers around the Netherlands.

When asked to evaluate the country’s political leaders, 70 percent said Balkenende and his ministers were doing a “lousy” job and little could be expected from their efforts.

Some 90 percent said they were unhappy with the state of the Netherlands today. About 40 percent of the people questioned said Balkenende’s performance as prime minister has progressively got worse and 80 percent said he was not a strong leader.

Balkenende’s current coalition government was formed by the CDA, Liberal VVD and Democrat D66 parties in May 2003.

His previous coalition government, with the populist LPF party instead of D66, fell apart after 87 days in 2002 as a result of infighting between LPF ministers.

The survey also found considerable discontent within the prime minister’s own party. Some 65 percent of the CDA members polled said Balkenende was not providing good leadership in government and 59 percent said he was not authoritative.

The majority of all people questioned were also very pessimistic about his ministers’ ability to make good on key promises.

Two thirds said the current cabinet would not make the country safer, improve the education system, reduce hospital waiting lists, boost the ailing economy or implement compassionate policies for the elderly.

And in a final put down for Balkenende, 70 percent said they would not be interested in having him pop into their house for a cup of coffee, ANP noted.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news