Netherlands: Government resigns after disagreement over migration policy

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will resign from his government due to disagreements over immigration policy within the ruling coalition in the Netherlands. Despite three days of intense negotiations, the government coalition failed to agree on ways to limit the number of asylum seekers in the country.

Political storm in the Netherlands. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s coalition government fell on Friday, July 7, after heated negotiations between the four ruling parties over the policy of accepting refugees.

“The four parties have decided that they cannot reach an agreement on immigration. So they have decided to put an end to this government coalition”, announced Tim Kuijsten, spokesman for the small Protestant party, ChristenUnie in the evening.

Nicknamed “Teflon Mark” for his ability to stay in power for twelve years despite the scandals – becoming the longest-serving prime minister in Dutch history – Mark Rutte had taken the reins of his fourth coalition in January 2022 after a record 271 trading days .

But the head of government from the liberal right-wing VVD party had in recent days stirred up trouble among his right-wing and center partners, demanding they adopt a series of divisive measures around the reception of asylum seekers.

Divisive project

Mark Rutte demanded that the three other parties in the government coalition, CDA’s Christian Democrats, D66’s center liberals and the small Protestant party ChristenUnie, agree to establish a quota for the number of children from territorial conflicts who can be granted asylum in the Netherlands.

Refugees already established in the Netherlands will no longer be allowed to be joined there by their children if a monthly quota of 200 children has already been reached, he also asked.

But two more flexible parties on immigration, ChristenUnie and D66, are opposed to this project.

ChristenUnie, whose voters are largely in the “Bible Belt”, a conservative area of ​​the country, traditionally opposes a tightening of the asylum policy due to its religious beliefs. seeking.

“We are all created and are all loved by the same God, and it is also from him that we received the earth on which we live. We therefore believe it is our duty to provide a safe place for victims of disasters, wars, persecutions and oppression”, writes ChristenUnie on its page.

After initial talks on Wednesday, members of the government met again urgently overnight from Thursday to Friday to discuss the prime minister’s proposals, but without reaching an agreement, giving rise to speculation about a quick fall of Mark Rutte’s fourth government, commonly known in the Netherlands as “Route IV”.

Heading towards early elections

Since the start of his first term in 2010, Mark Rutte and his liberal right-wing formation have had to face competition and pressure from several far-right parties, especially Geert Wilders’s PVV, which is fiercely against immigration.

With the explosion of the coalition, Prime Minister Mark Rutte should once again enter the legislative race with the aim of starting a fifth term as Prime Minister.

However, he may have competition within his party for the top spot.

Originally scheduled for 2025, these elections, which determine the composition of the lower house of the Dutch parliament, were due to be called soon, with a possible holding in the next few months.

The race for MP seats looks set to be tough for the parties in the current government, as a new pro-farmer formation opposed to EU environmental regulations won the most seats in March’s regional elections, which also determine the composition of the Senate.

AFP

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