Dutch voters are expected to punish a government which resigned after its mishandling of immigration policy led to the departure of a key coalition ally. Head of state Queen Beatrix will consult with political parties to discuss the situation after Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende tendered his government’s resignation. Polls show opposition Labour is set to become the biggest party in new elections that could be brought forward to the autumn.
Many voters questioned the need for a new poll. One commented: “I’m a little bit angry. My opinion is – just finish what you started and then we will see next year which party is to be chosen for the new government.” Another noted: “It was not necessary (to resign) because I just heard the reaction from (former MP Ayaan) Hirsi Ali from Washington. She said that the whole idea of everything happening because of her (is absurd) and I think it is just a little thing, and they made it so big.”
Somali-born Hirsi Ali inadvertently triggered the crisis by admitting she had lied in her asylum application in 1992. Hardline Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk threatened to strip her of her citizenship but was this week forced into a humiliating U-turn. The ruling coalition’s junior partner, the D66 party, pulled the plug late onThursday, calling for Verdonk’s dismissal. D66 will not necessarily benefit from its stance, polls show. It could lose half its six seats in parliament, with Labour gaining considerably more.
Dutch voters backed left-wing parties in local elections three months ago, rejecting anti-immigrant populism but it was uncertain that Labour would be able to build a left-wing coalition.