Netherlands government sworn in

The new Dutch government has been by sworn in by Queen Beatrix after meeting for the first time to formally adopt its policy guidelines. (…) The new governing coalition, led by Jan Peter Balkenende, the incumbent prime minister and head of the Christian Democrats party, will be further to the political left than the previous government which sought to limit non-Western immigration to the Netherlands. (…) The new cabinet contains the first Muslims to reach the inner core of political power in the Netherlands. Ahmed Aboutaleb, the son of a Moroccan imam, was sworn in as a state secretary, or junior minister, while Nebahat Albayrak, a Turkish-born lawyer, becomes junior justice minister. Balkenende’s previous coalitions, dominated by the Christian Democrats and free market VVD, had tried to reduce immigration in a country which once had the some of the weakest controls on immigrants and asylum seekers of any European country. Softer line on immigrants The new government has already demonstrated its leftwards shift by allowing thousands of illegal immigrants due for deportation to remain in the country. But it also will keep in place policies designed to force new arrivals to integrate, such as mandatory assimilation classes and Dutch language lessons.