The Dutch government collapsed over immigration policy

The crisis was caused by the desire of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, of the conservative right-wing VVD party, to limit the flow of asylum seekers to the Netherlands. Tensions came to a head this week when Rutte demanded that three other parties in the ruling coalition – the Christian Democrats CDA, the liberal centrists D66 and the small Protestant party ChristenUnie – agree to set a quota for the number of children from areas of armed conflict who can obtain asylum in the Netherlands, reports AFP. It also calls for refugees already settled in the Netherlands to no longer be able to join their children if the monthly quota of 200 children has already been reached.
On Friday, the last government crisis meeting took place in The Hague, during which the compromising proposal of the State Secretary for Asylum Eric van der Burgh was discussed, to no avail. It was not accepted, leading to the fall of the Rutte government after 543 days of existence, according to Dutch media. This decision was opposed by CDA and D66 representatives. At the same time, the “Christian Democrats”, whose majority of voters are in the so-called “Biebelgordel”, the biblical belt, a conservative region of the country, because of their religious convictions, traditionally opposes the hardening of the policy of accepted asylum seekers. “Tonight, we have unfortunately come to the conclusion that the differences are insurmountable. For this reason, I present my resignation to the king on behalf of the entire government,” Rutte told a press conference.

Rutte’s coalition will remain as a caretaker government until a new administration is formed after fresh elections, a process that typically takes months in the fractured political landscape of the Netherlands, reports CNN. The caretaker government is unable to make key political decisions, but Rutte said that would not affect Dutch support for Ukraine. The ANP news agency, citing the National Electoral Commission, said elections in the Netherlands would not take place until mid-November.

The Netherlands already has one of the toughest immigration policies in Europe, but under pressure from right-wing parties, Rutte has been trying for months to find ways to further curb the influx of asylum seekers. The number of asylum applications in the Netherlands rose by a third last year to more than 46,000. Authorities predict the number could reach more than 70,000 this year, surpassing the previous record high from 2015. This, the government says, will once again put pressure on the country’s asylum centers, where hundreds of refugees were simultaneously forced to sleep in spartan conditions for several months last year, with little or no relief. access to drinking water, sanitation or medical care. Rutte promised to improve the conditions in the institutions, mainly by reducing the number of refugees coming to the Netherlands. But he consistently failed to win the support of his coalition partners, who felt his migration policy “went too far”.

Rutte, 56, is the oldest head of government in Dutch history. It is expected that in the next elections he will lead his VVD party again. Nicknamed “Teflon” for his ability to stay in power for 12 years despite scandals, and thus becoming the longest-serving prime minister in Dutch history, Rutte took the reins of his fourth coalition in January 2022.

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