Full name: mr. dr. Jan-Pieter Balkenende
Nicknames: J.P., Harry Potter, Balkie
Born: May 7, 1956, Biezelinge
Known as: Prime Minister
Personal: Married, one daughter
Memorable quote: “I have had it with all the negativity.”
In 2002, when the first Balkenende administration was sworn in, the brand new prime minister was still a relatively unknown politician. That changed quickly. Jan Peter’s somewhat stiff appearance, nerdy glasses and most especially his hairdo, were the butt of many jokes. Which, by the way, did not move him to make any changes: content was always more important to this businesslike man from Zeeland. Imperturbably, he guided the Netherlands through tumultuous years. Issues with the royal family, the murders of Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh, the terrorist threat: Jan Peter continued to preach his message of norms and values. Even though not everyone was enchanted by catchphrases like “Decency is Necessary”, many Dutch citizens gave him their vote of confidence in the next elections.