Labour party demands apology from Dutch PM

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In what looks like a co-ordinated press offensive, Dutch Labour leader Job Cohen has accused Prime Minister Mark Rutte of being inconsistent about government ministers with dual nationality. Labour has been in opposition since the swearing in of a new right-wing cabinet earlier this month.

Mr Cohen is demanding an apology for a remark made by the current Prime Minister in 2007, when he was a member of the opposition. At the time, free-market liberal Mark Rutte said that Labour Deputy Minister Nebahat Albayrak, who is of Turkish descent, should give up her Turkish passport in favour of her Dutch one. But three years on, Mr Rutte himself appointed a deputy Health minister with dual Dutch and Swedish nationality, saying he "saw no problem" in doing so.

Labour leader Cohen told national dailies on Monday that as early as 2007, Mr Rutte appeared to have been in thrall to Geert Wilders' Freedom Party. The Freedom party got 15 percent of the votes in the general election on 9 June 2010 on a nationalist, anti-Islam platform. Mr Wilders' 24 MPs currently hold a key position, voting with Mr Rutte's minority right-wing government without being part of it.

Exclusion Mr Cohen criticised the influence of the Freedom Party on the new government's policies: "What their programme boils down to is that 'we don't want those Muslims here, we can do without them'. I'm concerned about this. The government's view is threatening an entire section of the Dutch population with exclusion."

The Labour leader said he will question Mr Rutte about his apparent change of mind in the first Lower House debate with the newly sworn in cabinet on Tuesday. The prime minister has not reacted to the interviews.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

1 Comment To This Article

  • Matt posted:

    on 25th October 2010, 15:12:12 - Reply

    Does anyone not realize that the Queen herself has dual nationality? She is also British and in line for the British throne! As she is a member of the government, she would fall under this criticism. By the way, her grandchildren and in line for the Dutch throne are dual Argentine-Dutch nationals too. If dual British, Argentine or Swedish nationality is not a problem for anyone, and Turkish is, then the objective is clear - no dual nationality with a majority Muslim nation. (By the way, in most cases Turkey refuses to allow their nationals to renounce their nationality)