The compromise worked out by the cabinet to solve the crisis around Rita Verdonk is a textbook case of Dutch pragmatism. First you have a general election. Then the first thing the new parliament does is vote to stop deporting failed long-term asylum seekers, pending the formation of the new cabinet.
The caretaker cabinet is not supposed to take controversial decisions, so its refuses to carry out parliament’s wishes.
Then the minister responsible says she will stop the deportations pending another debate. A few days later, the minister tells MPs that she plans to resume deportations that day, giving the impression she has planeloads lined up on the runway already. MPs then pass a motion of censure against the minister (rather than the more ‘serious’ vote of no confidence).
The cabinet then holds a crisis meeting. The result? The minister who has been censured gets to stay in the cabinet but loses her responsibility for asylum seekers. And the cabinet says it will not deport any long-term asylum seekers with children. (Is there a whiff of discrimination against the childless, the young and the homosexual?).
Congratulations all round! The cabinet has saved face, a political crisis is averted and MPs can feel they have achieved something. Isn’t democracy a wonderful thing?
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