Coalition government ponders its future

29th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

29 June 2006, AMSTERDAM — The Cabinet is meeting to decide its reaction to the threat by junior coalition party to collapse the government if Immigration Minister Verdonk doesn't resign.

29 June 2006

AMSTERDAM — The Cabinet is meeting to decide its reaction to the threat by junior coalition party to collapse the government if Immigration Minister Verdonk doesn't resign.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende declined to say anything about the D66 move until his ministers meet. MPs want him to make a statement to parliament by 4pm.

D66, the smallest of the three government parties, supported an opposition motion of no confidence in Verdonk on Thursday morning. Green-left party GroenLinks tabled the motion during a marathon debate about the Ayaan Hirsi Ali naturalisation question.

Although the motion was defeated 79-64, Labour Party leader Wouter Bos noted it would be unique if Verdonk stayed in office without the support of one of the government parties.

MPs of Verdonk's Liberal Party (VVD) and the Christian Democrats (CDA) of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende have said it would be unacceptable for Verdonk to be forced out.

Liberal leader Willibrord van Beek said the coalition government either stands or falls together.

There are several options open to Balkenende's government to resolve the crisis.

The simplest would be for Verdonk to resign. The coalition could then continue with a new minister for Immigration and Integration.

Some sources have said not all Liberal MPs would shed tears for Verdonk if this were to happen. But this would leave open the possibility that Verdonk might start up her own party or join Leefbaar Rotterdam's Marco Pastors. A new right-wing group could attract support away from the VVD.

Alternatively, Balkenende can go to Queen Beatrix and ask for dissolution of parliament. The Cabinet would continue in a caretaker capacity until new elections were held within three months.

Queen Beatrix could appoint a mediator to attempt to find a compromise. This last happened in 1999 when D66 threatened to pull out of a centre-left coalition with the Liberals and Labour. D66 was angered when Liberal Leader Hans Wiegel blocked a referendum law. The crisis was resolved and the government survived.

But it seems unlikely that mediation could work in this case as D66 is convinced Verdonk must go and the Liberals find this unacceptable.

The CDA and VVD could continue as a minority government, with support from one of the opposition parties. The most obvious candidate would be the LPF party. However, infighting within the LPF brought down Balkenende's first coalition and it seems unlikely anyone would accept a second link-up with the LPF, whether it was given ministerial positions or not.

It would also be possible for D66 to pull out of government but to continue to support the government. An obvious stumbling block would be the continued presence of Verdonk in Cabinet.

The last possibility would be for D66 to withdraw its demand for Verdonk to resign. This would be political suicide for the small party as it already faces a credibility problem. Implosion of D66 would doom the government.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news

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