New interior minister appointed

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Liesbeth Spies will succeed Interior and Kingdom Relations Minister Piet Hein Donner who has been appointed vice president of the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court and highest government advisory body. Mr Donner will be following up Herman Tjeenk Willink who has been the Council’s vice president since 1997.

Liesbeth Spies is a former MP for the Christian Democratic CDA and since April this year, a member of the South Holland Provincial Executive. The integration policy area will be transferred to the Immigration Ministry as part of the handover.

Donner’s move to the Council of State has been expected for months. Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten held a application procedure, but failed to dispel rumours that Mr Donner’s appointment to the prestigious post was a done deal. Earlier this week, it emerged that the candidacy of Chairman Alexander Rinnooy Kan of the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands had been rejected.

It has been clear since last week that CDA Deputy Prime Minister Maxime Verhagen considered Liesbeth Spies the main candidate to succeed Mr Donner. From 2002 to 2010, Ms Spies served as an MP and then as deputy chair of the parliamentary party. In parliament her responsibilities included governance reform and the monarchy. She was appointed to the South Holland Executive in April. Her policy areas included spatial planning and housing.

From July 2002 to September 2006, Piet Hein Donner was justice minister in three successive cabinets led by Jan Peter Balkenende. Donner resigned in 2006 over the fire at the Schiphol aliens’ detention centre in which 11 people were killed. From 2007 to 2010, he served as social affairs minister in the fourth Balkenende cabinet. In October 2010, he was appointed interior minister in the current CDA-VVD minority cabinet led by Mark Rutte.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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