Holland faces political crisis: government resigns

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said his Cabinet would continue in office, but opposition legislators said the defection of some coalition members required the government to resign, and called for early elections. Elections are not due until May 2007.


The pullout by Balkenende's small coalition partner, the D-66 party, appeared to strip the prime minister's three-party alliance of a parliamentary majority. The revolt by the small party set off a flurry of talks as Balkenende tried to hold his coalition together, the AP reports.


The political turmoil began last month when Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk - known for her hard-line immigration policies - threatened to revoke the passport of lawmaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Hirsi Ali admitted falsifying her name to escape an arranged marriage when she applied for asylum in 1992.


Hirsi Ali, 36, resigned her seat, but parliament ordered Verdonk to reconsider her decision. On Tuesday, Verdonk reversed it, having discovered a loophole: Under Somali law, Hirsi Ali's false name was technically legal because it was her grandfather's family name, according to Forbes.


A no-confidence motion against Verdonk was supported by the D-66 party, but the motion was defeated 79-64 in parliament early Thursday. The prime minister said there would be "no consequences" for his Cabinet, and Verdonk showed no indication she would step down, the AP reports.


But Louswies van der Laan, the D-66 parliamentary leader, said she was withdrawing her support from the coalition, and the prime minister must resign. Her party controls six of the coalition's 77 seats in the 150-member parliament.