Labour votes down proposal for parliamentary enquiry into Iraq

2 March 2007

Labour votes down proposal for parliamentary enquiry into Iraq

SP leader Jan Marijnissen's insistence on a roll-call vote notwithstanding, the motion to establish a parliamentary enquiry into the Netherlands' involvement in the Iraqi War was rejected by 107 votes to 38. The PvdA (Labour Party), which during its years in opposition argued on numerous occasions, and in the strongest possible terms, for just such an enquiry, voted against. The three governing parties – Christian Democrats (CDA), Labour and the Christian Union – had reached an unwritten agreement during their coalition negotiations that no enquiry would be held.

Jan Marijnissen“The PvdA has long been in favour of an enquiry but its parliamentary group has allowed itself to be gagged,” said SP leader Jan Marijnissen. “Labour's leader in parliament Jacques Tichelaar admitted during the debate that they'd lost the argument over establishing an enquiry when they sat down to negotiate a governmental agreement with their coalition partners, but parliament's responsibility to seek out the truth can't be compared to ordinary policy issues, you can't just trade it off against one of your other goals, as you might give up the idea of capping mortgage relief if your partners drop their plans to deregulate rents.” Referring to Labour MPs' unanimous opposition to the motion, Marijnissen said that it “showed that the PvdA is adopting a profile of having tight party discipline, which spells trouble for the future.”

The SP leader sees an enquiry into political support for the invasion of Iraq as a moral issue. “The Dutch people have the right to know what's going on. This is all about seeking out the truth, and seeking the truth is one of the things which Parliament should be doing. Keeping a check on the government is, moreover, Parliament's principal task.”

In the wake of the motion's defeat, Jan Marijnissen appeared on the television news and documentary programme Nova to say that if the Senate followed the lower house's lead in rejecting the call for an enquiry, the SP would ask the independent and non-partisan Netherlands Institute for War Documentation (NIOD) to conduct an investigation instead.

Marijnissen believes that should Parliament not exercise its right to ask NIOD to conduct an enquiry, the SP could itself call on the Institute to look into the matter. NIOD, which conducted the investigation into the fall of the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica, has in addition the power to establish an enquiry on its own initiative.

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