Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Minister dismissed!

(Minister not-very-happy-looking Verdonk: NOS, 'Acht uur journal')

There’s only so much you can resist. She survived three votes of no-confidence. She survived three cabinet downfalls, of which one was directly caused by her tough attitudes of doing and speaking. But today marked the downfall of Minister for Immigration and Integration, Rita Verdonk.

Dubbed ‘Iron Rita’ because of her hard-line approach to maintaining rules, the Parliament voted in the early hours of today to against her performance and policies. Since the adoption of the general amnesty for asylum seekers two weeks ago, (now ex-) Minister Verdonk has continually refused to comply with the wish of Parliament, and insists that she will continue (and did continue) to deport asylum seekers who may be in the category of those with amnesty.

In heated debates lasting almost whole day yesterday, Verdonk refused to concede to the wishes of the parliamentarian majority. Close to 1am ,the group of left-wing parties, with the support of the Christian Union (CU) and Party for Animals (PvdD) voted to oust her out of office. As one parliamentarian said, Minister Verdonk’s refusal to even cease with the deportation of asylum seekers for just 24 hours in order to allow the Parliament to debate on the matter shows how inhumane and inflexible her policies are. Who knows how many people have been wronged by her policies as a result in the past few years. But now she has to go.

The fact that the cabinet is out-going anyways means that her dismissal doesn’t really mean much. But to many, especially the left opposition, her final departure is a welcome success after years of struggle to unseat her.

Actually, her departure comes at an awkward time. It's caused a big stir and left the country in a state of crisis. The bigger political parties are still trying hard to overcome disagreements in forming a coalition government. This is not helped by the fact that the biggest party, Christian Democrats (CDA), has for the past two weeks stood staunchly behind Minister Verdonk—much to the ire of the two left-wing parties (Labour (PvdA) and Socialist Party (SP)), which support the general amnesty motion. These two latter parties are also the most likely candidates of negotiation for the future cabinet formation.

(Minister Verdonk and staunch-supporter Christian Democrat Prime Minister Balkenende: NOS, 'Acht uur journaal')

The vote of no-confidence against Minister Verdonk, some fear, may trigger her Liberal Party (VVD) to pull out of the out-going cabinet, which might effectively leave the cabinet having to rule with only a dozen seats in parliament. In short, a limping government until the parties come to an agreement who gets to govern next. And that could be a long time due to the intense disagreements about this very amnesty issue.

The mess one person, her ego and stauncheadedness, can cause....


For an in depth coverage, see de Volkskrant.

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