Friday, July 14, 2006


Remember when I told you about Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Dutch legislator who was being kicked out of the country for lying on her asylum application? She's in DC now working for a right-leaning think tank (which is too bad, she's not all that right-wing, really). Christopher Hitchens thinks her book, The Caged Virgin, is the bomb.

The good news for her is that the Dutch immigration minister, a very butch little gnome named Rita Verdonk, has decided that it's valid to use your mother's maiden name as your surname. Thus AHA never lied, and she can remain a Dutch citizen. Uh huh.

The bad news for everyone is that after the announcement, the government collapsed.

The Dutch government is elected through one of those wacky multi-party systems that are all the rage east of the Atlantic. The current "conservative" government here -- placing them just to the left of Michael Moore -- is a coalition of many parties, because no one party has a majority. (There are so many parties, in fact, that there is even one for NAMBLA-type pedophiles. I am not making this up.)

Well, one of the parties, D66, decided that Verdonk's decision lacked integrity, because Verdonk has portrayed herself as a hard-liner when it comes to immigration reform. So they pulled out of the government, leaving them without the majority of legislators they need to govern.

So the prime minister had to make a trek out to see Queen Beatrix to ask for her permission to continue as a minority government, to which she gave her royal and magnanimous assent. This essentially means that nothing will get done here until elections early next year.

The whole thing is kind of hilarious to the Dutch, and even more hilarious to expats like me. It's ridiculous enough that governments collapse over minor disagreements, but collapsing a government because one person is allowed to remain a citizen is just over the top. Did I mention that D66 actually supports allowing AHA to retain her citizenship? And that the legislature voted nearly unanimously in accord just weeks earlier? Crazy.

In the meantime, we're having the hottest Dutch July since the Big Bang, which means that sometimes it's in the high 70s. It's really spectacular.


At 10:56 PM, Blogger Mike said...

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