Mark Rutte: The Dutch coalition government is collapsing over the immigration row

  • Written by Mattia Bubalo and Robert Greenall
  • BBC News

photo caption,

Mr. Rota held three days of talks to try to save his coalition

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the Dutch government had collapsed after disagreements between coalition parties over asylum policies.

The four parties were unable to reach an agreement in the crisis talks chaired by Mr Rutte on Friday.

The government was formed a year and a half ago, but the parties have been diametrically opposed on immigration policy for some time.

Local media reported that new elections would likely be held in November.

Rutte confirmed the collapse during a press conference on Friday evening, after an emergency cabinet meeting was held. He said he would hand in his resignation to King Willem-Alexander on Saturday.

But Mr. Rutte added that the ministers will continue their work as a caretaker government before the new elections.

His conservative VVD party has been trying to curb the influx of asylum seekers, after a row last year over overcrowded immigration centres.

Asylum applications in the Netherlands jumped by more than a third last year to more than 47,000, and government figures said earlier this year it expected about 70,000 applications in 2023.

This week Rutte tried to impose a cap on the number of relatives of war refugees allowed into the Netherlands at just 200 per month.

But the coalition’s junior partners, the Christian Union, a pro-family party, and the socially liberal D66 party, were staunchly opposed.

All sides have done their best to find a solution, but the differences over immigration are unfortunately impossible to resolve.”

Proposing a compromise, known as the “emergency brake”, which would only impose restrictions in the event of an overflow of migrants, was not enough to save the government.

“The four parties decided they couldn’t reach an agreement on immigration. That’s why they decided to end this government,” said Christian Union spokesman Tim Koijsten.

Rutte, 56, is the country’s longest serving prime minister, having been in office since 2010. The current government – which took power in January 2022 – is his fourth coalition.

He has been pressured by immigration due to the rise of far-right parties such as Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party.

The Farmers and Citizens Movement (BBB), which became the largest party in the Senate after its surprise election victory in March, said it would not serve in any future government led by Rutte.

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