The Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Jan Peter Balkenende, announced yesterday evening on national television that the government is to resign following the withdrawal of one of the parties in the coalition government and that he would tender its resignation today.
Democrats ‘66 are withdrawing from the government following the refusal of immigration minister Rita Verdonk to resign. Ms Verdonk had attempted to strip a former member of parliament, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, of her Dutch nationality, but was forced to backtrack after all parties signed motions condemning the attempt and D66 had demanded her resignation.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who is originally from Somalia, resigned from Parliament on 16 May after admitting that she had lied on her asylum application and later in her naturalisation application, though she had told the true story of her arrival in the Netherlands before she was elected to parliament in 2002 and several times since to the media. As a result of the revelations, the Minister for Immigration and Integration, Rita Verdonk, announced that Ms Hirsi Ali’s Dutch nationality was to be withdrawn.
Ms Hirsi Ali became famous for her denunciation of fundamentalist Islam and support for women’s rights. She worked with Theo van Gogh to make the television film Submission, which showed violence against women committed in the name of Islam. Mr van Gogh was later murdered by a Muslim immigrant and a note was left on his body saying Ms Hirsi Ali would also be killed. She has been living under constant police protection ever since.
The Prime Minister will tender his resignation to Queen Beatrix, who will meet with the leaders of each parliamentary party to assess whether the Prime Minister can lead a temporary minority government or whether an election needs to be held as soon as possible.