Veil ban could go ahead in Netherlands after MPs declare it ‘non-controversial’

The proposed “burkha ban” in the Netherlands could go ahead before September’s election after MPs declared the proposal was not politically controversial.

It had been thought that any legislation would be delayed following the collapse of Mark Rutte’s cabinet last month. Since then the country has been run by a “demissionary” or caretaker government. Interim governments are limited by law to policy areas that are deemed non-controversial by a majority of members of Parliament.

The burkha ban and a proposal to abolish dual nationality were both policies included in the coalition agreement drawn up when Rutte’s cabinet took office. They were among the measures that Freedom Party (PVV) leader Geert Wilders insisted on as conditions of his party’s support for the minority centre-right administration.

After Wilders withdrew his support for the cabinet many of his party’s policies, such as the “animal cops” plan to give 500 police officers responsibility for the welfare of domestic pets, were dropped from the agenda. Many Dutch political observers expected the burkha ban and dual nationality proposals to go the same way.

However, members of the Lower House (Tweede Kamer) decided in a vote on Wednesday that they were non-controversial, thus authorising the caretaker government to press ahead with them.

Four weeks ago interior minister Liesbeth Spies, a member of the Christian Democrat party, said she no longer supported the burkha ban. She said: “In politics you sometimes have to do damage to your own principles because other issues are at stake. Your head says yes, but your heart doesn’t necessarily go with it.”

Amsterdam Herald, 1 June 2012

See also Dutch News, 31 May 2012