Parliamentary crisis as MPs denounce Verdonk

Parliament is in crisis this morning after MPs passed a ‘motion of disapproval’ denouncing the controversial immigration minister Rita Verdonk during the debate on asylum seekers last night.

The exact consequences of such a motion is unclear as the wording deviates from the more usual ‘vote of no confidence’.
The expectation now is that all the ministers in Verdonk’s Liberal (VVD) party will step down. According to VVD leader Mark Rutte in today’s Volkskrant, the Christian Democrats should do the same. The CDA and VVD currently form a minority caretaker cabinet while a new coalition government is being formed.
A crisis meeting of the cabinet is to take place this morning.
The Volkskrant says last night’s debate has resulted in a ‘unique situation’ and said that prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende has warned of a ‘constitutional stalemate’ between the cabinet and parliament.
Earlier on Tuesday evening Verdonk told MPs that she planned to resume deporting failed asylum seekers despite parliamentary backing for a temporary amnesty pending the formation of a new cabinet.
She argues that it would be wrong for the caretaker cabinet to change its policy on long-term refugees before a new cabinet is installed. It weould she said, be offering ‘false hope’ to asylum seekers.
Shortly after the general election on 22 November, MPs voted by a majority of one to stop the deportations pending the introduction of an amnesty.
Verdonk suspended deportations pending last night’s parliamentary debate but refused categorically to extend this further, saying she had the backing of both her own VVD party and the senior CDA coalition partner.
The centre-right cabinet argues that it is not allowed to make policy shifts while in a caretaker role. It was ‘old’ cabinet policy to deport long-term asylum seekers. The original group of long term asylum seekers at the centre of the row numbered 26,000.

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