Dutch government collapses over immigration policy

dutch-government-collapses-over-immigration-policy
Dutch government collapses over immigration policy

The Dutch government collapsed on Friday after failing to reach an agreement on immigration restrictions, according to junior coalition partner Christian Union. This development is expected to lead to new elections in the fall. Party spokesman Tim Kuijsten confirmed that Prime Minister Mark Rutte would resign his government, stating that the four parties involved were unable to reach a consensus on migration. The crisis arose from Rutte’s conservative VVD party’s efforts to limit the influx of asylum seekers to the Netherlands, which caused a split within the four-party coalition when two parties refused to support his proposals.

Tensions reached a breaking point this week when Rutte demanded support for a proposal to restrict entry for children of war refugees already in the Netherlands and to impose a waiting period of at least two years before families could be reunited. This proposal was deemed excessive by the small Christian Union and liberal D66, leading to the crisis. Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren described it as a sad day as she arrived for an emergency cabinet meeting following the failed migration talks. Despite lengthy discussions, an agreement could not be reached.

Rutte’s office announced that he would hold a press conference after the cabinet meeting. The Netherlands already has one of Europe’s strictest immigration policies, but under pressure from right-wing parties, Rutte had been attempting to further reduce the inflow of asylum seekers for several months. Asylum applications in the country increased by a third last year, surpassing 46,000, and the government projected that they could exceed 70,000 this year, surpassing the previous record set in 2015. This surge in applications would once again strain the country’s asylum facilities, where hundreds of refugees were forced to sleep rough with limited access to basic necessities last year.

In response to the dire conditions, Rutte expressed his shame and promised to improve the facilities by reducing the number of refugees entering the Netherlands. However, he failed to gain the support of coalition partners who believed his policies went too far. Rutte, who is the longest-serving government leader in Dutch history and one of the most senior in the EU, is expected to lead his VVD party in the upcoming elections. This collapse of the government comes just months after the current coalition took office in January 2022, marking Rutte’s fourth consecutive administration since becoming prime minister in October 2010.

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