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Dutch News
MPs unimpressed with motion from PVV 2/16/2007
AMSTERDAM – Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV) failed in its attempt to keep Ahmed Aboutaleb and Nebahat Albayrak from serving in the new government. The party thinks the two should be blocked from being appointed state secretaries because they both hold dual nationality. The PVV was forced to scrap this proposal however under pressure from Parliament and Speaker of Parliament Gerdi Verbeet.

The matter proved to be sensitive enough for the Speaker to interrupt PVV MP Sietse Fritsma’s introduction of the motion. In the short recess that followed Fritsma decided, at Verbeet’s insistence, to withdraw his attack on the prospective state secretaries. PvdA MP and prospective state secretary of social affairs Ahmed Aboutaleb is of Moroccan descent. His party colleague Albayrak, prospective state secretary at the justice ministry, is of Turkish background.

PVV faction leader Geert Wilders accused Verbeet of engaging in “pure party politics'''' and said it was a “scandal” how the situation had been handled. The Speaker said this accusation was unjustified.

Verbeet said the PVV was casting doubt on the loyalty of MPs and government members with dual nationality and as Speaker she could not accept that. “I am responsible for making sure that we respect each other.”

The law stipulates that members of the upper and lower houses of Parliament must be Dutch nationals, but does not state that they cannot have any other nationality alongside the Dutch. The PVV believes that both MPs and government members should be banned from having dual nationality because they are in danger of being confronted with a conflict of interests.

The party was initially asking that this regulation be immediately applied in the formation of the Balkenende IV government, but under pressure from Parliament this clause was removed from the motion.

The proposal was discussed during a debate with Integration Minister Rita Verdonk. She did not want to comment on the motion, but did say she would prefer that MPs and government members held only the Dutch nationality. “I think it is very important that MPs and ministers give off the message that they are proud to be Dutch.”

The MPs responded fiercely both to the PVV’s plan and Verdonk’s comments. Jeroen Dijsselbloem (Labour PvdA) urged Fritsma not to submit “this scandalous motion.” Naïma Azough (Green Left GroenLinks), who has both Dutch and Moroccan nationality, said the motion was “tactless and unworthy of Parliament.”

Aboutaleb himself said he was entirely loyal to the Netherlands.

“I find any doubt about my loyalty incomprehensible. I made a choice for the Netherlands. If you are wondering whether I value my Moroccan passport very highly, that is not the case. I don’t even use it.”

The prospective state secretary for social affairs said this after a talk with Jan Peter Balkenende, who also talked with future state secretaries Sharon Dijksma, Jet Bussemaker, and Frans Timmermans on Thursday. Prospective ministers Ella Vogelaar, Jacqueline Cramer and Ronald Plasterk met with Balkenende earlier in the day.

While Parliament debated Dutch citizenship, the ChristenUnie met to appoint a new faction leader. As expected, the faction chose Arie Slob to succeed André Rouvoet, who will soon become Minister for Youth and Family Affairs.

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