Dutch Government Collapses Over Plan to Further Limit Immigration

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced his resignation on Friday, citing disagreements within his coalition government over how to curb immigration.

The decision by the Netherlands’ longest-serving leader means the Netherlands will face general elections for a quorum of 150 lower houses later this year.

“It’s no secret that our coalition partners have completely different views on immigration policy,” Rutte told reporters in The Hague.

“And today, unfortunately, we have to conclude that these differences are irreconcilable,” he said.

Mr Rutte said he would immediately “offer the King in writing to resign the entire cabinet”.

The coalition government, which collapsed on Friday, has spent months trying to reach a deal to reduce the flow of new migrants into the country of about 18 million people. Reportedly, the proposal includes creating two classes of asylum, one temporary for people fleeing conflict and another permanent for those seeking to flee persecution; It said it included reducing the number of families allowed to join.

Tensions reached a climax this week as Mr Rutte called for support for a proposal to restrict the entry of children of war refugees already in the Netherlands and force them to wait at least two years for their families to reunite, according to Reuters. It is said that

This last proposal went too far for the smaller Christian League and the liberal D66 and caused a crisis.

Hundreds of asylum seekers were forced to sleep outdoors in poor conditions near overcrowded reception centers as the number of people arriving in the Netherlands last year exceeded the beds available. Dutch aid agencies provided assistance.

The debate is between a partner party that does not support a tougher crackdown on immigration (D66’s centrist Kristen Uni (Christian Union)) and two parties that support tougher measures (Rutte’s conservative Liberal People’s Party). highlighted the ideological divisions in the coalition government between And Democracy and Christian Democrats.

Rutte’s ministers met for a hastily scheduled meeting late Friday. “We have been talking for a long time, but with no results, I am here tonight,” Defense Minister Kaisa Oronguren told reporters as he entered the cabinet.

Rutte, the Netherlands’ longest-serving prime minister, presided over late-night meetings on Wednesday and Thursday, but no deal was reached. Further talks took place on Friday night, but he declined to answer questions on the issue at his weekly press conference before the talks.

“Everyone wants to find a good and effective solution that justifies the fact that this is a matter of life,” Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag of the centrist D66 party said before the talks began. .

In 2022, just over 21,500 non-Europeans applied for asylum in the Netherlands, according to the country’s statistics office. Tens of thousands more immigrated to the Netherlands for work and study.

The numbers put a strain on housing already in short supply in the densely populated country.

Mr. Rutte’s government has worked on a law requiring local governments to provide accommodation for newly arrived asylum seekers, but the bill has yet to pass both houses of Congress.

The prime minister also pushed forward the European Union’s efforts to slow immigration to the bloc of 27 countries. Rutte visited Tunisia last month with his Italian compatriot and the head of the EU Executive Committee to commit more than 1 billion euros to help the North African country’s struggling economy and to stop coastal migration to Europe. provided financial assistance to

Rutte’s fourth coalition government took office in January 2022 after the longest coalition negotiations in Dutch political history.

Elections to the 150-member lower house of the Dutch parliament are likely to take place later this year, amid a polarizing and divisive political landscape. The Rutte cabinet is likely to remain in office as an interim government until a new government is formed.

In state elections earlier this year, the populist pro-peasant party pushed Rutte’s party to second place. The defeat is seen as a possible incentive for Prime Minister Rutte to do everything in his power to keep the coalition in power until the end of his term in 2025.

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