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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 December 2006, 10:31 GMT
Dutch crisis as minister censured
Dutch Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk
Rita Verdonk has introduced hardline anti-immigration policies
The Dutch cabinet has been forced into crisis talks after parliament passed a motion censuring the controversial Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk.

It is thought she may resign following the vote, in which case her party has vowed to withdraw from the government.

Critics have attacked Ms Verdonk for overruling a motion in which the new parliament demanded an amnesty for thousands of illegal immigrants.

Attempts to form a new coalition after polls last month are still going on.

In the meantime, the old coalition, including Ms Verdonk's VVD party as the second party, is carrying on in a caretaker role.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende warned that if the VVD withdrew from the caretaker government it could lead to a "constitutional stalemate".

His cabinet held talks on Wednesday to discuss the crisis.

Swing to left

Since the election on 22 November opposition parties have had a slight majority in parliament.

The left-leaning PvdA and Socialist parties backed a motion calling for the suspension of deportation orders against 26,000 failed asylum seekers who entered the country before tougher immigration laws were introduced in 2001.

About half are thought either to have been sent home or to have left of their own accord.

Ms Verdonk had vowed to deport them all, and dismissed the parliamentary motion, saying it might have led to 200,000 illegal immigrants applying for residence.

Correspondents say the motion on asylum may have been a way for the left-leaning parties to prove their increased power over the VVD and others on the right.

Ms Verdonk, who has initiated the Netherlands' swing to a harder line on immigration issues in the last few years, is a hate figure for many on the left.

Vote fragments Dutch politics
23 Nov 06 |  Europe
Dutch emerge from doldrums
20 Nov 06 |  Europe

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