The Netherlands is facing a political crisis and early elections after the centre-right government of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende announced it is resigning. It comes after a row over the immigration minister prompted the D66 party to quit the ruling coalition. It withdrew its support over Rita Verdonk’s tough stance on the citizenship of a Somali-born Dutch politician.
She had threatened to strip Ayaan Hirsi Ali of her citizenship for lying about her refugee status on arrival in the country in 1992. Balkanende made the resignation announcement in parliament and afterwards said it was regrettable as the government was making progress with reforms.
Elections, initially scheduled for May 2007, could take place in September at the earliest. Hirsi Ali resigned from parliament last month and said she would leave the Nethernlands after Verdonk threatened to withdraw her citizenship. The minister reversed her decision after Hirsi Ali submitted a statement saying she had not intended to lie to the authorities.