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Jan Peter Balkenende

Dr. Jan Peter Balkenende (born May 7, 1956, officially Jan Pieter Balkenende) became Prime Minister of the Netherlands on July 22, 2002, heading the first Balkenende cabinet and the second Balkenende cabinet.

He began his career on the staff of the research institute of the Christen Democratisch Appèl (CDA) political party and was also a member of the council of Amstelveen. Afterwards he became a special professor of "Christian social thinking" at the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam.

He became a member of the CDA faction in the lower house of parliament (the Tweede Kamer) on May 19, 1998, while the party was in opposition. He became the financial spokesman of the CDA and was also involved with social affairs, justice and internal affairs.

He became the fraction chairman of the CDA on October 1, 2001, as successor of Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. On November 3, 2001 he was appointed lijsttrekker (head of the list of candidates) for the CDA for the May 2002 parliamentary elections.

On July 4, 2002 Queen Beatrix asked Balkenende to form a new government, in the wake of the resignation of Prime Minister Wim Kok.

Balkenende currently resides with his family in Capelle aan den IJssel. He also rents an apartment in The Hague that caused a row, since it costs the Dutch government 9000 euro per month. This while at the same time Mr Balkenende is talking about seriously diminishing government expenses.

In the Netherlands, he is brilliantly portrayed in the satyrical programme 'Kopspijkers'.

Internationally he is probably most famous for his strong resemblance with Harry Potter.

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