The Dutch government collapses over a dispute over immigration policy

() — The Dutch government collapsed after failing to reach an agreement to curb immigration.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Friday that his government would resign from the Dutch king, prompting new elections in the fall.

Rutte, who has been in power since 2010 and is Europe’s second-longest-serving leader, said disputes over measures to restrict immigration had led to the fracture of his four-party coalition government.

“It’s no secret that coalition partners have different views on immigration policy,” Rutte said at a news conference Friday night, stating that “those differences have become insurmountable.”

The king willem-alexander he returned early from vacation to meet Rutte this Saturday, when the prime minister will formally tender his resignation.

The decision was sparked by differences between Rutte’s conservative VVD party and its coalition counterparts over measures to limit the flow of asylum seekers into the country.

Rutte said the coalition had “lost its political base” after the breakdown of negotiations. “That is extremely unfortunate and at the same time a political reality that we cannot avoid,” he said.
In addition to the VVD, the current coalition government consists of the liberal D66 party, the centrist Christian Union and the more socially conservative Christian Democrat Appeal.

VVD has proposed limiting entry to the children of war refugees already in the country and making families wait at least two years before being able to join.

Two of the VVD’s coalition parties, the Christian Union and D66, refused to support the restrictions, causing the split.

“In the Netherlands we have a tradition of bridging differences. We are a country of minorities. We take ourselves into account. That’s the only way we can find compatible solutions. That is why we made agreements with four parties,” Dutch Finance Minister and DD6 party leader Sigrid Kaag said Friday.

“After long and intense discussions, the cooperation in the coalition stopped today. D66 approached the talks constructively. The negotiations were tough. We have always searched for the right tone, attitude and content. Unfortunately, the differences turned out to be irreconcilable, ”he added.

The number of asylum-related applications the Netherlands received increased from 36,620 in 2021 to 47,991 last year, with most applicants coming from Syria, according to the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Until May of this year, the country had received 16,097 applications.

The government estimates that applications could exceed 70,000 by the end of 2023.

Wopke Hoekstra, Dutch foreign minister and leader of the Christian Democratic Campaign, which supported Rutte’s policies, said the Netherlands had to “control immigration.”

“The carrying capacity of our small, densely populated country is under pressure. Too often, people find themselves competing for housing, health care and education,” Hoekstra said Friday.

This Monday there will be a debate in parliament on the fall of the government. Parliament will return from its summer recess for that debate.

Rutte, 56, has led four consecutive governments and is expected to lead the VVD in new elections. By law, elections cannot be held within 90 days of a government resigning, and summer and fall recesses are likely to push the date back to November.

With the immigration issue growing in importance, some Dutch political analysts have speculated that Rutte might be taking advantage of this issue to strengthen his own electoral position.

“Other parties in the coalition think that Rutte might have had an interest in this,” said Xander van der Wulp, a political reporter for affiliate and Dutch national broadcaster NOS. “That he thought, migration is a good topic to break now and then start a campaign.”

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Written by Editor TLN

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