Jan Peter Balkenende, Prime Minister of the Netherlands for eight years from 2002 until 2010, had a meteoric political career. An academic by profession, he only entered national politics in 1988 at the age of 42 when he was first elected to the House of Representatives for the Christian Democratic Alliance party (CDA). Only four years later he was elected leader of the party and led it to a surprise victory in the 2002 general election, in which the CDA gained 14 seats. He then headed four successive administrations as Prime Minister in coalition with a variety of other parties until defeat in the 2010 general election, after which he resigned from the CDA leadership and retired from politics at the age of only 54.
An extract from The Responsible Society, an interview with Jan Peter Balkenende by Robert Low, Breakthrough: From Innovation to Impact, Volume 2.