AMSTERDAM: The Dutch government collapsed on Friday after failing to reach an agreement on restricting immigration, leading to new elections in the autumn. The crisis was triggered by pressure from Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s conservative VVD party to limit the flow of asylum seekers to the Netherlands, which two of his four-party government coalition refused to support.
Rutte told a televised news conference: “It is no secret that coalition partners have different opinions about immigration policy. Unfortunately today we have to conclude that those differences have widened. So I will hand over the resignation of the entire cabinet to Raja.” ,
Tensions reached a peak this week when Rutte sought support for a proposal to limit the entry of children of war refugees already in the Netherlands and to wait at least two years before families can be reunited. This latest proposal went too far for the small Christian Union and moderate D66, leading to a standoff. Rutte’s coalition will remain as caretaker government until a new administration is formed after new elections, a process that usually takes months in the fractured Dutch political landscape.
The news agency ANP cited the National Election Committee as saying that elections would not be held before mid-November. A caretaker government cannot decide on new policies, but Rutte said this would not affect the country’s support for Ukraine.
The Netherlands already has one of Europe’s toughest immigration policies, but Rutte, under pressure from right-wing parties, has for months been looking for ways to further reduce the influx of asylum seekers. Asylum applications in the Netherlands rose by a third last year to more than 46,000, and the government has forecast they could rise to more than 70,000 this year – a previous high since 2015.
This will again put pressure on the country’s asylum facilities, where for several months last year hundreds of refugees at a time were forced to sleep in crammed places with little or no access to drinking water, s.tation facilities or health care. Had to be forced to. Rutte said last year he felt “embarrassed” at the problems when the hum.tarian group Médecins Sans Frontières first sent a team to the Netherlands to assist with the medical needs of migrants at the center to process asylum requests.
He promised to improve conditions in the facilities, mainly by reducing the number of refugees arriving in the Netherlands. But he failed to win the support of coalition partners, who felt his policies went too far.
Rutte, 56, is the longest-serving government leader in Dutch history and the most senior in the European Union after Hungary’s Viktor Orban. He is expected to lead his VVD party again in the next election. Rutte’s current coalition, which came to power in January 2022, was his fourth consecutive administration since becoming prime minister in October 2010.