The number of asylum applications has risen sharply in the Netherlands. There was a dispute in the government about how to react to this – and no solution: the four parties could not have reached an agreement on the issue of migration at a crisis meeting, said a spokesman for the Christian Union (CU), one of the smaller ones, late on Friday evening parties in Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s coalition. “That’s why they decided to end this government.”
The sticking point was a restriction on the family reunification of refugees who were already in the Netherlands and which Rutte’s right-wing liberal party VVD had demanded. These demands went too far for the other parties.
Right-wing populist electoral successes
Mark Rutte (56) then resigned immediately. He was Prime Minister of the Netherlands for almost 13 years, making him one of the longest-serving heads of government in the EU. Since January 2022, he has led his fourth cabinet after coalition negotiations that lasted a good nine months, making them the longest in the country’s history. A total of four parties were needed to achieve a majority in the second chamber of parliament: Rutte’s right-wing liberal VVD, the left-liberal D66, the Christian Democratic CDA and the small Christian Union.
After numerous crises, the coalition’s poll numbers had fallen sharply. In the most recent provincial elections in March, in which the first chamber of parliament – comparable to the Bundesrat in Germany – was elected, all governing parties posted significant losses. The big election winner was the right-wing populist peasant movement BBB, which became the strongest force right away. The BBB is only represented by one deputy in the Lower House. Great success is predicted for the party in a new election.
Increase in asylum applications by a third
Asylum applications in the Netherlands rose by a third to over 46,000 last year and are expected to rise to more than 70,000 this year – a new high since 2015. This is expected to put a significant strain on the country’s asylum facilities. For months in the past year, hundreds of refugees have been forced to sleep outdoors with little or no access to drinking water, sanitation or health care. Rutte had announced that the conditions in the facilities would be improved, particularly by reducing the number of refugees.
AR/wa (dpa, rtr)