Mark Rutte has said that differences between the four coalition parties were “unbridgeable” and so the Dutch government has collapsed.
In a late-night press conference the Dutch prime minister refused to blame a single party for the breakdown over asylum policy.
For months, the government has tried to agree a new policy, with Rutte’s VVD party and the Christian Democratic CDA arguing for tighter restrictions, particularly on family reunification rights for refugees with more “temporary” residency.
“It’s no secret that the coalition parties think very differently about asylum policy and today we unfortunately need to draw the conclusion that the differences are unbridgeable,” said Rutte in a press conference. “So I will immediately offer the government’s written resignation to the king.”
The differences between the four parties hinged on whether different asylum seekers could be given different rights on when they could bring family members to join them. The VVD, supported by the CDA Christian Democrats, were reportedly arguing for a two-tier system where asylum seekers from countries considered only temporarily risky – for example, due to war – would have to wait two years.
“Migration is a big and important theme, politically and socially,” said Rutte. “Now that we cannot come to agreement on this theme, we decided together in a cabinet meeting that the support to go on in this coalition has fallen away. It is very regrettable, but it is a political reality.”
However, some suggested that Rutte was playing politics while placating the harder right wing of his own party on the subject of migration – a strong VVD calling card. Attje Kuiken, leader of the PvdA labour party, said on an Op1 debate: “Rutte chose for his own interests…calling an election at a potentially more favourable time in the polls.”
Het vierde kabinet Rutte is vanavond gevallen. De coalitie is gestruikeld over de kwestie van de opvang van asielzoekers. VVD-fractievoorzitter @hermans_sophie, D66-fractievoorzitter @jpaternotte en PvdA-fractievoorzitter @attjekuiken reageren in #Op1. #BNNVARA pic.twitter.com/LJRkVrpghn
— Op1 (@op1npo) July 7, 2023
Throughout the week, party leaders and ministers have had late night talks to try to thrash out a policy and on Thursday the situation seemed more positive. But Pieter Heerma, head of the ChristenUnie, said that Rutte’s position was suddenly “bordering on reckless politics” on Nieuwsuur current affairs programme on Friday night and Jan Paternotte, head of liberal democratic D66, said Rutte was the one who pulled the plug.
“Migration is an important subject but last Wednesday an extra demand came on the table, otherwise, the attitude was, go jump,” said Paternotte on an Op1 debate, describing the key issue as the children of wartime refugees. “Rutte was a premier who was always looking for solutions, not ‘my way or the highway’, but that is what happened this week.”
The current government will continue with a caretaker status – unable to take new political decisions barring an emergency – until a general election, which is likely to be held mid-November, reports NOS.
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