Dutch PM Rutte To Update King On Government Collapse

0
73
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is due to meet His Majesty King Willem-Alexander, King of the Netherlands (pictured), to announce the collapse of his government. Picture: Royal House of the Netherlands
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is due to meet His Majesty King Willem-Alexander, King of the Netherlands (pictured), to announce the collapse of his government. Picture: Royal House of the Netherlands

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced his resignation Friday after his coalition party collapsed due to migration policy issues.

THE HAGUE — Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is due to meet King Willem-Alexander today, to discuss a caretaker administration, a day after his government fell apart, due to disagreements about migration policies.

As head of state, King Willem-Alexander is expected to ask Rutte’s coalition to stay on as a caretaker government until a new administration is formed after new elections, a process which in the fractured Dutch political landscape usually takes months. The national elections committee was cited as saying the elections would not be held before mid-November.

The decision by the Netherlands’ longest-serving premier to step down came after the collapse of the ruling coalition which failed to reach an agreement about how to deal with asylum seekers entering the country.

Tensions came to a head this week, when Rutte’s conservative People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) party demanded support for a proposal to limit entrance of children of war refugees who are already in the Netherlands and to make families wait at least two years before they can be united.

Reduce Inflow Of Asylum Seekers

“It’s no secret that the coalition partners have differing opinions about immigration policy. Today we unfortunately have to conclude that those differences have become insurmountable. Therefore I will tender the resignation of the entire cabinet to the king,” Rutte said in a televised news conference.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Netherlands’ longest-serving premier to step down came after the collapse of the ruling coalition which failed to reach an agreement about how to deal with asylum seekers entering the country.

Two of his four-party government coalition, the small Christian Union and liberal D66 coalition refused to support his latest proposal, causing a stalemate.

Not since the 2015-2016 migration crisis has immigration been such a fault line in European politics.

The Netherlands already has one of Europe’s toughest immigration policies but under the pressure of right-wing parties, Rutte had for months been trying to seek ways to further reduce the inflow of asylum seekers.

Asylum Facilities Under Strain

Asylum applications in the Netherlands jumped by a third last year to over 46,000, and the government projected they could increase to more than 70,000 this year – topping the previous high of 2015 and put a strain on the country’s asylum facilities, where for months last year hundreds of refugees at a time were forced to sleep in the rough with little or no access to drinking water, sanitary facilities or health care.

Asylum applications in the Netherlands jumped by a third last year to over 46,000, and the government projected they could increase to more than 70,000 this year, putting a strain on the country’s asylum facilities, where hundreds of refugees were forced to sleep in the rough with little or no access to drinking water, sanitary facilities or health care.

Rutte last year said he felt “ashamed” of the problems, after humanitarian group Medecins sans Frontieres sent in a team to the Netherlands for the first time ever, to assist with migrants’ medical needs at the centre for processing asylum requests.

He promised to improve conditions at the facilities, mainly by reducing the number of refugees that reach the Netherlands. But he failed to win the backing of coalition partners who felt his policies went too far.

Run For 5th Term

Rutte is the longest-serving government leader in Dutch history and he is expected to lead his VVD party again at the next elections. He told a press conference late on Friday that he’d like to run for a fifth term but would consult with his party before making a final decision.

“If you were to ask me to decide now, the answer is obviously ‘yes’,” he told journalists, but added “it’s also up to the party”.

Rutte’s current coalition, which came to power in January 2022, was his fourth consecutive administration since he became prime minister in October 2010. — REUTERS