Cabinet To Defy Parliament Wish For General Amnesty (The Netherlands)

Cabinet to defy Parliament wish for general amnesty

4 December 2006
Expatica News

AMSTERDAM The Cabinet appears unlikely to carry out a motion from the Dutch Parliament aimed at granting a general amnesty to thousands of asylum seekers who entered the country under the nation's older immigration laws.

Coalition government parties the Christian Democrat CDA and Liberal VVD are jointly opposed to the measure.

VVD Minister Rita Verdonk (Immigration) and CDA Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin (Justice) have written a letter to the parliament responding to last week's motion.

Sources have indicated that the letter explains to MPs that the cabinet is rejecting the motion based on policy objections and constitutional reasons.

The minister said they are not prepared to temporarily end the expulsion of asylum seekers and the parliament will debate the matter on Tuesday.

It means the CDA-VVD cabinet has defied the parliamentary motion lodged by Labour PvdA leader Wouter Bos and passed with 75-74 majority in the 150-seat parliament.

Bos' motion placed CDA leader Jan Peter Balkenende under pressure. Since the 22 November elections, Balkenende has been obligated to enter into government coalition talks despite being still in charge of carrying out CDA-VVD government policy.

Balkenende is highly critical of Bos' actions. The PvdA leader considers the passing of the motion a victory, but Balkenende accused him of playing chess on two boards.

He said the issue of a general amnesty should be discussed during coalition formation talks and that Bos should not try and enforce his will via a “coincidental majority” in the new Lower House of Parliament.

The conflict has cast a heavy shadow over the coalition formation. PvdA and the Socialist SP are demanding that Balkenende publicly state that the CDA will enter into coalition talks with the two left-wing parties.

But Balkenende failed to do so after his Saturday meeting with informateur Jan Rein Hoekstra, who is in charge of the coalition formation talks.

It is unclear how Hoekstra who has now separately met with all party leaders will continue with the formation this week. He has not yet chaired a meeting at which all three party leaders were present.

Bos promised on Saturday that he would not place sensitive issues up for debate in parliament, but in coalition talks instead, provided that the CDA made clear it was looking towards a CDA, PvdA and SP coalition government.

Meanwhile, CDA Maastricht Mayor Gert Leers urged the CDA and PvdA on Sunday to not let the general amnesty for long-term asylum seekers develop into a feud.

The idea of the amnesty is to issue a residence permit to 26,000 asylum seekers who entered the country prior to tougher immigration laws in April 2001 and who are still living in the country.

The CDA-VVD government had decided at the start of 2004 that they should be deported, but public and political opposition to the decision has mounted. However, 12,000 of them have since left the country.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news