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Immigration vote sparks Dutch government crisis

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Immigration vote sparks Dutch government crisis

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The issue of immigration continues to play havoc with Dutch politics. A parliamentary vote has plunged the caretaker government into crisis. Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk is at the centre of the row. She has been formally condemned in the chamber for refusing to temporarily halt deportations of rejected asylum seekers. Known as “Iron Rita” because of her crackdown on immigration, political rivals complain her policies fail to reflect the results of last month’s elections. Immigration has been a key issue in the Netherlands since the murders of politician Pim Fortuyn and film-maker Theo van Gogh, both of whom were vocal critics of Islamic extremism. November’s poll failed to produce a clear majority although Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende’s Christian Democrats remain the biggest party in parliament. Amid emergency cabinet talks to resolve the latest crisis, broader negotiations on forming a governing coalition are still no further forward.