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29 June 2006
AMSTERDAM — The Dutch coalition government collapsed on Thursday evening after one of the most bizarre days in the country's political history.
Christian Democrat Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende finally conceded the coalition was finished after both Cabinet ministers and the one junior minister of D66, the smallest coalition party, resigned.
Balkenende is expected to tender his government's resignation to Queen Beatrix on Friday.
Hours earlier, Balkenende had announced that his ministers had decided a rejected motion of no confidence in Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk of the Liberal Party (VVD) had no consequences for the government.
Balkenende said the Cabinet, including the two D66 ministers, was unanimous in its decision. One of the D66 ministers, Alexander Pechtold, earlier this month beat Van der Laan in the election to be the new leader of D66's parliamentary party.
The parliamentary party of D66 supported the opposition motion of no confidence on Thursday morning because of the way Verdonk refused to acknowledge any blame for the Ayaan Hirsi Ali naturalisation affair.
D66's Van der Laan said the party was withdrawing support for the government in response to Balkenende's announcement that the government intended to continue with Verdonk.
She told parliament that Balkenende should go to the Queen to ask for dissolution of parliament.
MPs of both the government and opposition parties questioned Van der Laan as to why D66's two ministers had not resigned. CDA parliamentary party leader Maxime Verhagen said D66 MPs should table a motion of no confidence in its own ministers first.
The Liberals and the Christian Democrats then signalled they intended to continue in the government without D66. This plan was temporarily torpedoed by the D66 ministers during a meeting of the entire government on Thursday evening. However the two main coalition parties said they still planned to consult with the Queen about forming a minority government to introduce the 2007 budget.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Dutch news
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