April 15, 2024

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The Dutch government collapses after a dispute over immigration

The Dutch government collapses after a dispute over immigration

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The Dutch government collapsed after a row over immigration restrictions.

Mark Rutte, the prime minister, announced on Friday night that his four-party coalition government would submit its resignation to King Willem-Alexander and that elections would be held.

Rutte, 56, has been in power since 2010 with four coalition governments and is the second longest-serving leader in the European Union. But disagreements over asylum policy have split his alliance between centre-right and liberal parties.

“It’s very unfortunate,” he said.

He said he still had the energy to continue as his party’s leader in the VVD, but he would take time to consider whether to do so.

Two parties refused to support Rutte’s proposal to limit the number of asylum seekers after three days of talks. He has come under pressure after the numbers rose over the past year.

Reception centers were overcrowded and a child died in a sheltered gymnasium in August.

The VVD wanted to reduce the number of asylum seekers who could bring their families to the Netherlands. Only those who are in personal danger, for example because of their political views or sexual orientation, will be allowed to do so. Those fleeing famine or war will not.

D66, a more progressive liberal party, and the Christian Union, a centrist party, declined to agree.

Rutte also tried to limit immigration by pressuring Brussels to take action. He recently traveled to Tunisia with Giorgia Meloni, the leader of Italy’s right-wing, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, to offer more than €1 billion in investment if it reduces the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean.

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By law, elections must wait at least three months, and the summer and fall holidays are likely to push them back to November.

Peter Herma, leader of the Christian Democrats, said the government’s collapse was “very bad for the Netherlands”. He condemned Rutte as irresponsible and reckless.

VVD remains the largest party in the Netherlands’ divided political corps, which includes 20 parties including independent MPs in the lower house of parliament.

Sarah de Lange, professor of politics at the University of Amsterdam, said the election would produce a “completely different parliament”.

“The election could be beneficial for the VVD given that coalition partners D66 and the Christian Democrats are very low in the polls and the new BBB will have to scramble to get everything ready in time.”

The BBB, or Citizen Farmers Movement, is only four years old, but it won provincial elections in March with 19 percent of the vote. He rose to prominence by supporting farmers’ protests against government plans to cut agricultural production to cut nitrate pollution.

BBB leader Caroline van der Plas, the only member of parliament, said she was ready to hold an election.

“All the streamers are still in the pens. They can be put back in the fields tomorrow. We’re just going from campaign to campaign. We’re just continuing what we’ve been doing,” she told NOS radio.