Schippers warns party leaders that a minority cabinet looms

Schippers warns party leaders that a minority cabinet looms

Coalition negotiator Edith Schippers told reporters on Thursday she had warned party leaders that the Netherlands may end up with a minority cabinet if none of them are prepared to move forward in the negotiations to form a new administration. This makes it crucial for the parties to take a step forward, Schippers said, adding that ‘it will not be simple, but it is necessary’. Without movement, the Netherlands may have a minority cabinet 'and that is not what anyone wants,' Schippers said. She will meet the leaders of all the parties represented in parliament again on Friday and has called on them all to ‘leave your comfort zone’ Talks on two different coalition combinations have failed so far. The Netherlands has had a caretaker government since the general election on March 15. The most likely minority cabinet would be a combination of the VVD, Christian Democrats and D66. 'This appeal from Schippers on a public holiday shows that the talks really are deadlocked,' RTL news political correspondent Frits Wester said. 'But a minority cabinet would not be a disaster for the country. It might even work well given the enormous divisions in parliament.'  More >

Ascension Day traffic jams break record

Sunshine and accidents lead to record Ascension Day traffic jams Thursday is the busiest Ascension Day on the Dutch roads on record, traffic information service VID said. Around lunchtime there were 125 kilometres of jams on the roads, far above the previous record of 78 kilometres which dates back to 2009. There were long queues on roads to beaches and to the Wadden Sea islands ahead of the long weekend. Other problems were caused by accidents. The A16 was partly closed after a collision between a lorry and a tow-truck, causing long tailbacks. Twijfelachtige eer. We gaan opnieuw de boeken in. #Hemelvaartsdag 2017 drukste ooit ➜ — VID (@vid) May 25, 2017   More >

Rotterdam launches campaign to end forced

Rotterdam launches campaign to end forced marriages A Rotterdam city council poster campaign backing the right of young women to choose their own partner has drawn both mostly praise but some have criticised it for trivialising a serious problem. The campaign, supported by women's rights organsations Femmes for Freedom and Dona Daria, consists of four different posters showing a couple kissing in front of the city's landmark Erasmus bridge. They have been hung at 50 different locations around the city and will remain in place for 14 days. In one, a woman in a Muslim headscarf kisses a man wearing a Jewish skull cap, in another, two women kiss. Each poster carries the text 'In the Netherlands, you choose your own partner', followed by 'do you feel free to choose?'. The campaign was launched by integration alderman Ronald Schneider, who represents the right-wing populist party Leefbaar Rotterdam. Schneider told the NRC he is concerned that women with an Islamic or refugee background might be stopped by a relative if they, say, choose to begin a relationship with a woman. 'We consider it to be completely normal but not everyone does,' he said. The fact that Dutch people were not always free to decide who to marry a couple of generations ago makes the campaign even more relevant, he said. 'We have to protect the freedoms we have now,' he told the paper. Dozens of people showed their support for the campaign on social media and others called for it to be extended nation-wide. Trivial However, local Labour party councillor Fatima Talbi told the party the poster campaign is an election student by Leefbaar Rotterdam and trivialising a serious issue. Nourdin el Ouali, of local Muslim party Nida said the posters are 'stereotypical, ethnocentric and provocative. 'This is benefiting no-one,' he said, adding that the posters are the work of an ethnocentric white man. Nevertheless, both El Ouali and Talbi said they supported the central message. Shirin Musa from lobby group Femmes for Freedom told the Volkskrant the campaign is a 'boundary-breaking statement' which shows that women's right to self-determination is central. The council is showing 'it supports women who are confronted with honour-related violence, forced abortions, who are told they are too western or are sent back to their country of origin to be re-educated,' she said. De campagne is gelanceerd ❤️Supertrots @femmes4freedom hand in hand met de gemeente Rotterdam ❤️ — Shirin Musa (@ShirinMusa) May 24, 2017   More >

Dutch embassies heavily understaffed

Schippers warns party leaders that a minority cabinet looms An extra €70m to €80m a year needs to be spent to bring Dutch embassies up to scratch, the government advisory board for international affairs AIV said in a new report. The report said increasing global dangers make the tasks of embassies wider and more complex but that there have been sharp cost reductions in the Dutch diplomatic corps in recent years. Staff levels have been cut by one-third compared to 20 years ago and interns are being assigned to posts formerly held by diplomats, the AIV claims. The assumption that physical presence is unnecessary with new developments in communications is false, the report says. Dutch companies abroad need help in opening doors, particularly in protectionist countries. Europe In particular, the AIV said a number of embassies which were closed recently in Africa and South America need to be reopened. And priority should go to countries on the eastern and southern flanks of Europe. 'We are understaffed in cities that are very important for the Netherlands. In Ukraine, Sweden, the Baltic States - all posts that are important for our relations with Russia – the staffing is minimal,' report co-compiler Fred van Staten told the NRC. In addition, more preliminary talks about EU matters take place away from EU official circuits in Brussels,' he said. 'If you want to make a mark in Brussels, you must be able to find as many allies as possible in the capitals. Then you must have well-staffed embassies there.'  More >

Police to test motorists' saliva for drugs

Schippers warns party leaders that a minority cabinet looms Dutch police may begin testing the saliva of drivers and people involved in violent crimes for drugs from July 1 when new zero-tolerance rules come into effect, the transport ministry said. The saliva test can be used to find out if people have taken opiates, cocaine, THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) and methamphetamines and has been used in Belgium for some time. The test identifies whether there are drugs in the system but cannot say how much or when the drug was taken, which needs to be established to find out if someone has broken road safety laws. To establish this, follow up tests need to be done, Patrick van Vugt from test maker Dräger told BNR radio. The test is not without its critics. Cannabis researcher Nicole Maalsté said in a website column that THC can be identified up to 14 hours after it was taken. 'I consider it very unlikely that someone is still under the influence if they smoked week half a day ago,' she said. Follow up blood tests are also expensive, Maalsté said. This makes it likely that police will select who to run a saliva test on based on their appearance. 'Shirt and tie, no drugs test, cap and sneakers, yes a drugs test,' she wrote. 'I can see it happening.'  More >