(Also check out the anti-Verdonk T-shirts section.)
Ayaan Hirsi Ali's fellow members of the VVD free-market party are in an uproar. The normally hugely loyal Dutch VVD MP Bibi de Vries has said that 'if anything happens to AHA, her blood will be on the hands of members of my party'. Former party leader Van Aartsen appeared on television with his face looking like a freshly boiled lobster. European VVD MP's as well as Geert Dales, the VVD mayor of Leeuwarden, have condemned secretary Rita Verdonk's preliminary decision to revoke AHA's citizenship.
What will happen next?
AHA will hold a press conference, which is starting right now.
The political opposition is preparing a parliamentary condemnation of Verdonk's action. Such a condemnation will effectively end Rita Verdonk's tenure if it gets a majority.
The condemnation may very well get that majority, because of the open revolt within the VVD. Also, the right-of-centre CDA party, which supports the current administration, has expressed doubts about Verdonk.
If Verdonk has to go, then the entire Balkenende administration may have to resign, if it turns out that Balkenende was informed of Verdonk's decision.
Also, the Dutch law philosopher Afshin Ellian, a colleague of mine at Leiden University (I've never met him though), is preparing legal action against Rita Verdonk.
Press conference of AHA
13.56: Vice prime minister Gerrit Zalm openly supports AHA during her press conference, thus adding further fuel to speculations about Rita Verdonk's political future.
14.04. Zalm sneers at Verdonk, hinting at the extreme speed with which Verdonk decided to revoke AHA's citizenship: 'If she always works with this speed, the immigration service will soon be rid of all backlogs.'
Debate on Verdonk
16.45. A debate which may decide the future of Rita Verdonk is about to start. Prime minister Balkenende has distanced himself from Verdonk by expressing his reservations about the speed with which Verdonk has made her decision on AHA. This means he is probably employing a CYA strategy, intended to at least salvage the current government.
17.35. Lousewies van der Laan, who leads the centrist D66 (Democrat 66) party, has announced she will file a motion which will, if it gets a majority, effectively force secretary Rita Verdonk to use her so-called 'discretionary powers' (i.e. a sort of executive privilege) to grant AHA a new Dutch passport, before the end of this week.
17.41. Geert 'Peroxide Head' Wilders gets his turn to speak in Parliament. He says there are days when he's wondering what he's doing in politics. I've been thinking the same thing about Wilders for quite a while.
18.35. They're eating until 20.15. Take a look at our new T-shirts in the meantime ;-).
18.43. Planet Internet reports that VVD and CDA will support the D66 attempt to grant AHA Dutch citizenship after all.
21.10. Femke Halsema, leader of GroenLinks (Green Left), reveals the email address of AHA: email@example.com. This means that just about everyone in The Hague must have known AHA lied about her name for years - and there's absolutely no reason why Verdonk would start an investigation into her now - apart from opportunism borne of the desire to become the leader of the VVD party.
22.15. The Second Chamber (Lower House) is in recess. You didn't miss much, as with any parliament most of decision making process does not take place in front of the cameras. VVD chief whip Willibrord van Beek spoke some ambigous but subtly ominous words to a PBS journalist about Verdonk's political future. The Second Chamber is not pleased, to say the least. And although Verdonk may still survive this debate, she's dead in the water politically. Her main competitor in the VVD leadership tussle, Mark Rutte, is sitting back while he now soars in the polls.
Of course, the guy who is laughing most is Wouter Bos, PvdA (Labour Party) leader. It was the VARA, a social-democratic PBS station (don't ask me to explain our PBS system to you, I won't), that aired the documentary that started this latest witch hunt. It is Verdonk, a person who could lead the VVD to a victory in next year's election, who had an image of being steadfast to uphold after she threw a 17 year old girl out of the country, and denied the Dutch citizenship to a talented soccer player who wanted to participate in the upcoming world championship.
Even though I am convinced Verdonk did this because out of opportunism, the reasons for it being opportune were there for all to see. If this was a trap by the PvdA, the VVD took it, hook, line and sinker. For weeks now, the VVD has been gaining seats in the polls because of the so-called 'Verdonk effect', in anticipation of her taking over the VVD leadership. I'm not optimistic about the new poll at the end of this week.
22.58. Dutch PBS reports that the VVD and CDA, the two main parties that form the government, will ask of Verdonk to reconsider her decision - or else.
23.01. Pieter Dorsman is dead wrong. I am perfectly happy being Dutch. I am just not too happy with some of my fellow countrymen and, specifically, countrywomen that are not deserving of the title.
23.10. Dutch PBS reports a compromise may be in the works between the VVD and Verdonk. Then again, this is only based on a reporter dropping in on a private little chat between Verdonk and Ter Beek, who immediately got up and left.
23.29. Van Beek (VVD) files a motion asking Verdonk to reconsider her decision. It is supported by four other parties: CDA (right-centrist), PvdA (labour), D66 (centrist liberal) and GroenLinks (way too left).
It should be added, especially for those readers who have the inclination to mask their ignorance of the local situation by throwing words such as 'cowardice' at the situation, that this course of action is not entirely without logic. CDA and VVD want to get rid of Verdonk, but they can't. It will mean elections, which the left-wing parties will win, as they are going much stronger in the polls than CDA and VVD.
This may well be the result of a compromise. It's speculation, but here's my take. The VVD leadership doesn't want Verdonk, but Mark Rutte to lead the party. So Verdonk gets to live for now - but her political career will be over after this administration resigns at the end of its term (hopefully). And she'll have to back out of the leadership race. If she announces her withdrawal from this race somewhere this week, we'll know that I was right - or not, of course, if she doesn't.
00.52. Verdonk accepts the motion, meaning she will have to either revoke her earlier revocation of AHA's citizenship, or give her a new one pronto.
01.02. But then seems to ruin it all by stubbornly interpreting the motion in exactly the way the Second Chamber doesn't intend it. This may end in her resignation after all.
01.44. A THIRD term of the debate will start at 02.00. This should not happen. It means the Second Chamber is not satisfied with the response of Verdonk to the motion it has filed. It may also mean Verdonk may still be dismissed (yes, please), and bring down the government with her (not yet, please).
01.49. Grin. Some Ayaan cartoons.
01.55. I'm signing off for the night as this may well take until morning. If you want to keep score, I suggest Google News.
9.02. It's a good thing I didn't stay up. Nothing much happened after this. But AHA will get her Dutch citizenship - one way or the other.