Stalemate on asylum seekers may hinder today’s coalition talks (update)

Christian Democrat leader Jan Peter Balkenende began the first bilateral talks today with the two parties, Labour (PvdA) and the Socialists, that are the most to be his coalition partners in a new cabinet. The CDA has the most seats in parliament following last month’s general election.

However the talks are likely to be difficult because of the stalemate between the outgoing CDA/Liberal cabinet and the new parliament over suspending the extradition of asylum seekers pending a general pardon.
Last night both sides refused to budge on their standpoints. The current cabinet is sticking to its earlier position and will not bow to pressure to allow 12,000 refugees who have lived in the country since 2001 but whose applications for residency has been turned down, to stay.
Labour leader Wouter Bos, who initiated the vote last week to allow asylum seekers to remain in the Netherlands until a new government is formed, dismissed the cabinet’s argument that such a move was not feasible.
Yesterday immigration minister Rita Verdonk said the immigration service IND will not deport the asylum seekers until MPs discuss the cabinet’s response.
Last week MPs voted by a majority of one in favour of a temporary amnesty for the asylum seekers. At the time left-wing parties warned there could be a vote of no confidence in Verdonk if the cabinet does not bow to its wishes.

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