Disagreements between coalition parties over immigration policies have resulted in the fall of the Dutch government, paving the way for new elections in the autumn.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s conservative VVD party sought to limit the number of asylum seekers entering the country, but the proposal split the four-party coalition. The crisis reached a climax when the smaller Christian Union and moderate D66 parties refused to support the plan. After unsuccessful negotiations, Rutte is expected to tender his resignation to Dutch King Willem-Alexander.
Defense Minister Kajsa Olongren said, “It is a sad day… We have talked for a long time, but we have failed to reach an agreement.”
Rutte aimed to tighten restrictions on family reunification for asylum seekers following a scandal last year involving overcrowded immigration centres. However, the Christian Association strongly opposed the cap on the number of relatives of war refugees entering the country at 200 per month. Despite attempts at reconciliation, the fall of the government became inevitable.
An anxious crowd gathered outside government buildings in The Hague, expressing concern about the future cabinet and hoping for reform of asylum policies.
Rutte’s previous government faced criticism and resigned in 2021 due to a child benefit scandal, while in 2017, he faced criticism for shifting to the right to stem the rise of far-right leader Geert Wilders .
With the rise of right-wing parties and the success of an environmentalist party in the recent Senate elections, the upcoming elections in the Netherlands promise to be controversial.
Rutte, Europe’s second-longest-serving leader, is expected to lead his VVD party into the election. The collapse of the coalition government highlights the deep divisions and challenges surrounding immigration policies in the Netherlands.