|07THEHAGUE295||2007-02-16 12:06:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy The Hague|
1. (C) This message is a response to reftel request for
information on Dutch Prime Minister Balkenende's Weblog by
Washington Analysts and the Open Source Center (OSC).
2. (C) Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende maintained a
weblog (blog) -- www.janpeterbalkenende.nl -- during the
recent Dutch Parliamentary election campaign. The first
entry is dated October 2, 2006, and the last is dated
November 23, 2006, i.e. the day after the elections. There
have been no subsequent entries, and post is not aware of any
plans to revive the blog at this time.
3. (C) Balkenende was one of several party leaders who set up
blogs during the election in an effort to reach out to new
potential voters, especially among youth. Some senior Dutch
government officials, including outgoing Finance Minister
Zalm and outgoing Defense Minister Kamp, and about a dozen
members of Parliament, also maintain regular weblogs between
elections and use them to comment on current affairs.
Balkenende has not done so. however.
4. (C) Most of the entries in Balkenende's blog were short,
peppy, and focused on familiar CDA campaign themes. While
post does not know for certain who drafted the entries, the
language and subject matter was consistent with Balkenende's
personal style, and we have no reason to believe that he did
not write them himself. Reactions were posted on the blog
and appear to have been only minimally filtered, if at all.
Most reactions were positive and many offered ""advice"" on
campaign strategy and how Balkenende should approach
coalition formation talks.
5. (C) Balkenende's entries made little mention of his home
life, which is not unusual for politicians in the
Netherlands. His relative openness in writing about his own
experiences on the campaign trail, however, were seen as
""humanizing"" him and probably added to his popularity. Dutch
media reported early in the campaign on the establishment of
Balkenende's blog -- along with those of his political rivals
-- but the blog itself does not appear to have been a major
source of reportable material during the campaign.