Dutch Cabinet falls over Verdonk – Hirsi Ali deal.

[UPDATE 29/6 21:06] And that's all she wrote. Balkenende just announced that the two D66 ministers and the D66 underminister have resigned due to their fraction redrawing suppoert for the cabinet. Tomorrow Balkenende will present her majesty Queen Beatrix with the resignation of the entire cabinet. Who'd ever thought that this would end in this?

[UPDATE 29/6 19:28] Resumption of parliament postponed untill 20:30 local at the request of the cabinet.

[UPDATE 29/6 18:55] Parliament session to resume at 19:30 local with the PMs reaction to the current situation. In the mean time: Verhagen (CDA) and Rutte (VVD) have both indicated they would support the cabinets decision to continue as a minority cabinet. Femke Halsema is screaming for early elections. Hop she doesn't get them.

[UPDATE 29/6 17:17] Van der Laan (D66) pulled the plug: The D66 fraction withdraws its support for the entire cabinet. Cabinet now lost majority in parliament. Balkenende refuses to make a statement untill he's heard the statement of all parties. Balkenende: Unclear at this stage whether resignation of the cabinet is called for.

[UPDATE 29/6 16:27] Van der Laan (D66): Wants to continue with this cabinet, but without Verdonk as minister of Integration.

[UPDATE 29/6 16:16] Balkenende (PM): The cabinet has unanimously decided to not follow the rejected motion of disapproval, that D66 supported. That means they will not fire Verdonk and intend to go on. But van der Laan earlier said *she* has the support of both D66 ministers. Anyway, it is now up to D66 to either pull the plug from the cabinet give up their support for the motion.

[UPDATE 29/6 13:49] Teletekst is saying the D66 ministers are behind the D66 fraction, meaning a crisis is now a hard fact. The VVD has already said the resignation or firing of Verdonk alone would be 'unacceptable' and that whe 'would not be the only one stepping down'. In the mean time Verdonk is reported as being determined not to step down voluntarily. So there's now two choices: Either VVD and CDA continue without D66 but with a minister that does not enjoy the support of a large chunk (though not a majority) of Second Chamber in a minority cabinet. Or the cabinet resigns in toto this afternoon.

[UPDATE 29/6 11:49] NOS news reports the cabinet will meet early in the afternoon to consider the fact that coalition partner D66 has withdrawn support for Verdonk. A new emergency meeting of the Second Chamber is scheduled for 14:00.

Original post:
Democrats '66 (D66), the junior partner in the current coalition, has formally given notice of distrust in minister if Integration Rita Verdonk. D66 was the only coalition partner voting in favor (NL) of a motion of disapproval (that fell short of a majority by 64 to 79) during last nights emergency session of the Second Chamber of parliament. Fraction leader van der Laan said she was not out to destroy the cabinet, but maintained that D66 has lost all faith in the capacities of Verdonk as minister and wanted her to resign.

This pretty much means the end of Verdonks ministership and despite van der Laans assurance, probably also that of the cabinet. Either she resigns today, or D66 ministers Pechtold and Brinkhorst will resign, blowing up the cabinet and ending everyones ministership. There is the smallest of possibilities that the CDA (christian democrats) and the VVD (conservative liberals) will continue in a minority cabinet after D66 leaves it, but it is very unlikely.

Last night until early his morning, Dutch parliament held an emergency session with PM Jan-Peter Balkenende and Minister of Integration Rita Verdonk over the handling of the situation around Ayaan Hirsi Ali's citizenship. Verdonk maintained she had done nothing wrong during the whole period from May 15th (when Hirsi Ali was told she never had been Dutch) up untill last Monday the 26th of June, when Hirsi Ali was forced to sign her declaration (NL).

Everything seem to go along nicely, untill a (deliberate?) slip of the tongue by Balkenende showed that support for minister Verdonk was not unequivocal: Asked about the sentences in Hirsi Ali's declaration absolving Verdonk of any blame, he answered that these sentence were added in order for verdonk to be able to 'live with' the solution. Before, he had maintained that the formulation under scrutiny was a 'legal necessity' to wrap up the procedure to restore citizenship to Hirsi Ali. At that point parliament became very critical and D66 decided to distance itself from Verdonk and support the motion of disapproval.

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