Friday, July 12, 2024

Dutch PM announces departure from politics

Just two days after the collapse of his government, Mark Rutte, the longest-serving Dutch Prime Minister, on Monday announced his departure from politics.

In a brief statement prior to the debate on the fall of his fourth government in The Hague, Rutte stated that he will no longer be available as leader of his People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) in the next elections slated to take place later this year, reports Xinhua news agency.

On Saturday, the 56-year-old had announced the collapse of his government after a failure to reach an agreement on an immigration policy between the four coalition parties.

“It is no secret that the coalition partners have very different views on migration policy. And today we unfortunately have to conclude that those differences are irreconcilable,” Rutte said at a press conference.

“This decision is difficult for all of us and for me personally too. It is regrettable that it did not work out,” he added.

The four parties all believe that measures need to be taken on migration issues, but they still have disputes about the strictness of the approach.

The most thorny issue is family reunification.

The VVD and the Christian Democratic Appeal insisted that a restriction on family reunification is a way to reduce the migration flow, but the Democrats 66 and Christian Union drew a red line on this.

The collapse of the current government means new elections have to be planned, probably in November, according to local media reports.

Rutte is the longest-serving government leader in Dutch history and the most senior in the European Union after Hungary’s Viktor Orban.

His current coalition, which came to power on January 10, 2022, was his fourth consecutive administration since he became Prime Minister in October 2010.

The Netherlands already has a one of Europe’s toughest immigration policies but under the pressure of right-wing parties, Rutte had for months been trying to seek ways to further reduce the inflow of asylum seekers, CNN reported.

Asylum applications in the Netherlands jumped by a third last year to over 46,000, and the government has projected they could increase to more than 70,000 this year — topping the previous high of 2015.

This will again put a strain on the country’s asylum facilities, where for months last year hundreds of refugees at a time were forced to sleep in the rough with little or no access to drinking water, sanitary facilities or healthcare.

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