The Balkenende standard and other terms named after politicians

The Balkenende standard, established in 2013, advocates that public administrators in our country should not earn more than 130 percent of a minister’s salary. The standard is named after former Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende. The Prime Minister is not the only politician in the Netherlands whose name is linked to a standard, to the name of a job or to the name of a problem neighborhood. Politicians Lieftinck, Zalm, Kok, Melkert, Hillen and Vogelaar, among others, preceded him in this.

Terms named after politicians

Various politicians and ministers have implemented measures during their term of office to which their names have become associated. Vogelaarwijk does not mean a breeding ground for ornithologists, but the term is synonymous with a deprived neighborhood and refers to Minister Ella Vogelaar. The Salmon Snipe is also not a bird or fish species, but the indication of a tax relief.

A number of examples of politicians, ‘immortalized’ for a short or long period of time in the designation of a standard , the name of a subsidized job, a deal or a starter kit to introduce the Dutch to a new currency:

Ten from Lieftinck

Piet Lieftinck was Minister of Finance in four successive cabinets after the Second World War. On September 26, 1945, all Dutch people received ten guilders, intended to help them survive the following week. As part of the great monetary purge, all old banknotes and coins were handed in and exchanged for new money that week. Lieftinck’s

Tenner was actually not a tenner because it consisted of different denominations. To prevent a shortage of change, the Dutch received five one-guilder notes and two one-resdaalder notes. The tenner was not a gift; only those who could hand in ten guilders in old money received ten guilders back in new banknotes.

The Lieftincktientje

The Lieftincktientje (not the same as the Lieftinck Tentje) was the first ten-guilder note issued after the monetary purification. Perhaps the best-known banknote from Dutch post-war history was put into circulation from October 1945.

Kok’s quarter

As a result of economic stagnation, the third cabinet of Ruud Lubbers (1989-1994) implemented an additional package of measures. With the introduction of the so-called Interim Balance 1991, the government tried to reduce the deficits in the national budget. One of the measures in the package was the Kok Quarter, the increase in excise duty on car fuel from 18.3 cents per liter on petrol and 7 cents per liter on diesel. The measure named after Minister Kok of Finance and intended as a temporary measure has never been reversed.

Gerrit Zalm / Source: Roel, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-2.0)

Salmon standard

During the first cabinet led by Wim Kok (Purple I, 1994-1998), the Salmon Standard was introduced in which government expenditure was separately linked to government income. The standard is named after Gerrit Zalm, Minister of Finance at the time. With this trend-based budget policy, expenditure may not exceed a pre-agreed amount; the windfalls are not used for additional expenditure, while the setbacks are not automatically absorbed by additional cuts. The windfalls are intended to reduce the national debt.

Salmon snipe

The tax reduction that the cabinet of Prime Minister Wim Kok implemented on January 1, 1998 was called Zalmsnip, a contraction of the name of Minister Zalm and the popular name for the hundred guilder banknote, the snip.
As a result of a budget surplus, the minister decided to implement a reduction of one hundred guilders (more than 45) on local charges. The municipalities responsible for implementing this reduction have mainly applied the Salmon Snipe to property tax assessments. The Salmon Snipe was abolished in February 2005.

Salmon kit

In the month before the changeover from the guilder to the euro on January 1, 2002, every Dutch person over the age of six received a set containing all eight euro coins. This starter kit, as the official name is, was soon given the name Salmon Kit, following the example of the Salmon Snipe in the corridors. The purpose of the Salmon Kit, for which De Nederlandsche Bank covered the costs, was to introduce the Netherlands to the new currency shortly before the introduction of the euro.


The Melkertbaan, which was introduced in 1994, was intended to allow people who were far removed from the labor market to gain work experience through subsidized work, after which reintegration into the regular labor market would become possible. The Melkertbaan owes its name to Ad Melkert, then Minister of Social Affairs and Employment. The salary for these types of jobs, financed by the European Social Fund, was a maximum of 1.2 times the minimum wage.

Bolkestein measure and directive

VVD politician Frits Bolkestein was State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Minister of Defense in the 1980s. In the 1990s he was the political leader of his party. After his working life in domestic politics, he has been European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Customs Union and Taxes for a number of years since 1999. In this position, he issues a directive with the aim of simplifying payment transactions within the euro area. The measure that came into effect on July 1, 2003 is called the Bolkestein measure. The European Services Directive from February 2006, which obliges EU member states to open up their services market in favor of providers in other member states, is also known as the Bolkestein Directive.

Rietkerk Benefit Act

The Rietkerk Benefit Act applies as a special benefit. The benefit should be seen as a conciliatory gesture from the Dutch government to the Moluccans who were brought to our country in 1951. The law is named after Koos Rietkerk, then Minister of the Interior and in that capacity responsible for minorities policy.
The annual benefit for the first generation of Moluccans was set in 1988 at 2,000 guilders, now 900 euros.

Hillen Act / Hillen deduction

The Hillen deduction stipulates that if the mortgage interest paid is lower than the notional rental value, an additional deduction may be claimed equal to the difference. The Hillen Act (2005) to promote the financing of one’s own home with one’s own resources is named after Hans Hillen, influential Member of Parliament on behalf of the CDA in the period 1990-2002. The Hillen Act was repealed by the Rutte III cabinet in 2018 with a transition period of thirty years.


In March 2007, Minister Ella Vogelaar of Housing, Communities and Integration presented a list of the forty largest problem neighborhoods. Additional investments were made during the Balkenende IV cabinet period for these neighborhoods with social, physical and economic disadvantage. Around 2009, the economic crisis caused a delay in tackling a large number of the Vogelaar neighborhoods named after the minister.


Since January 2013, the Top Income Standards Act has imposed restrictions on the salaries of top officials in the public and semi-public sector. The law stems from the Balkenende standard, which advocates that public administrators in our country may not earn more than 130 percent of the salary of a minister (approximately 229,000 at the time of its introduction in 2013).

The standard is named after Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende and is a result of the social outrage about the high salaries of various public administrators, even for directors who do not function properly, and the often resulting high severance payments.

Bitch deal

The Teeven deal, the partly secret settlement between the Public Prosecution Service and a drug trafficker, is named after then public prosecutor Fred Teeven, who subsequently served as State Secretary for Security and Justice from 2010 to 2015. The details of the settlement in which the drug trafficker received seized money back were not disclosed to the Tax Authorities and the FIOD. The secrecy leads to the so-called receipt affair, which forces several ministers to resign.

Block mortgage

The duo mortgage, the combination of an annuity mortgage and a supplementary credit mortgage, is also called a block mortgage. The name given to this complicated way of keeping a home affordable for starters is Minister Blok of Housing and the National Service, who presented the mortgage type in the spring of 2013.

A disadvantage of the Block Mortgage is the additional loan that must be taken out, which in fact requires paying off a debt with a debt; a short-term advantage creates a long-term liability. Since no bank offers the product, the Block Mortgage was not a success. Since January 1, 2017, starters can apply for a starter loan from the Dutch Municipalities Housing Incentive Fund (SVN).

Rutte’s quarter

Following Kok’s Quarter, 2018 is popularly referred to as Rutte’s Quarter, although the reason is completely different. The Rutte III cabinet will abolish dividend tax; Overall, the abolition of this will cost every Dutch person approximately 25 cents; this permanent loss of income will have to be compensated by other taxes.

Other examples named after politicians

In addition to the examples of ministers who saw their names reflected in a standard, a means of payment or a form of mortgage, there are also politicians whose names are linked to an event, a way of presenting or obfuscating language. Some examples of this are:

  • Willem Drees (‘Draw from Drees’; in 1947 Willem Drees piloted the Emergency Old Age Provision Act, the predecessor of the AOW, through parliament; it was popularly said that the people who were entitled to this state pension ‘drew from Drees’);
  • Norbert Schmelzer (The Night of Schmelzer in October 1966 in which the Cals cabinet falls);
  • Ruud Lubbers (the woolly language characteristic of Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers is referred to as lubberian, while belubbering, coined by PvdA MP Marcel van Dam, is synonymous with deceiving);
  • Elco Brinkman (for the 1994 House of Representatives elections, information officer Frits Wester devised the current presentation for party leader Elco Brinkman, the so-called Brinkman shuffle);
  • Hans Wiegel (The Night of Wiegel in May 1999 in which the Kok II cabinet initially falls but picks up the thread again after a few weeks).


Forest tax

Wouter Bos (Minister of Finance in the fourth cabinet of Jan Peter Balkenende) could almost have been included in the list of examples above. The so-called Sustainability Contribution, which distinguishes between taxpayers born before 1946 and after 1945, initially seemed to be called Forest Tax.

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