Immigration Clash Brings Down Dutch Government

Parties in Mark Rutte's coalition can't agree on steps to limit number of people seeking asylum
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2023 5:06 PM CDT
Dutch PM Resigns as Immigration Talks Collapse
Prime Minister Mark Rutte speaks Tuesday during a press conference at the Serbia Palace in Belgrade.   (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Mark Rutte, the Netherlands' longest-serving prime minister, announced his resignation, and that of his Cabinet members, on Friday. His ruling coalition was undone by its inability to reach agreement on how to limit the number of immigrants seeking asylum in the country, the New York Times reports. "It is no secret that the coalition partners have very different views on migration policy," he said in The Hague. "And today, unfortunately, we have to draw the conclusion that those differences are irreconcilable." Rutte said he'd put the resignations to the king in writing immediately. Elections probably will be held in November.

Government ministers have been debating proposals for months, per Politico. Negotiations broke down this week when two parties rejected a plan by Rutte's party to make it more difficult for refugee families to reunite. imposing a two-year waiting period on them. When the number of people seeking asylum last year exceeded the number of available beds, hundreds of immigrants were left to camp outside in squalor. Aid agencies had to step in. Asylum applications rose by one-third last year, topping 46,000; they're projected to reach at least 70,000 this year, per the Guardian.

"Everybody wants to find a good, effective solution that also does justice to the fact that this is about human lives," the finance minister said before the negotiations started. After the talks collapsed, Rutte—who has held his post since 2010 through four coalitions—said, "All parties went to great lengths to find a solution, but the differences on migration are unfortunately impossible to bridge." Members of the Farmer-Citizen Movement, which now holds the most seats in the upper house of parliament, said they will not serve in any future government lead by Rutte, per the BBC. (More Netherlands stories.)

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