Prime Minister Rutte to steer around passport issue

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Prime Minister Mark Rutte will read out his government policy statement in parliament today. In doing so he will lay out the plans of the conservative VVD and Christian Democrat cabinet. This will be followed by a debate, which will continue on Wednesday.

The minority cabinet has the parliamentary support of the Freedom Party. Party leader Geert Wilders plans to tackle the government on the double nationality of deputy minister Marlies Veldhuijzen van Zanten-Hyllner. Ms Veldhuijzen also holds a Swedish passport. Mr Wilders is opposed to government ministers holding two passports as he says it leads to a conflict in loyalty.

Other parliamentary parties have indicated they do not support his opposition to the deputy minister's double nationality. However, MPs are annoyed by the change of heart of Prime Minister Rutte himself. In 2007, as leader of the VVD parliamentary faction he urged Labour deputy minister Nebahat Albayrak to give up her Turkish nationality and said having two passports was something that should not be allowed in the future. Labour leader Job Cohen has called on Mr Rutte to issue an apology to the former deputy minister. Ms Albayrak says he should apologise to a million Dutch people who he insinuated were disloyal.

Before Prime Minister Rutte reads out his policy statement ten new MPs will be sworn in to replace government ministers. One of them VVD candidate Bart de Liefde also holds two passports. He is partly British according to public broadcaster NOS.





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