The non-agreement of parties on immigration policy led Dutch Government to collapse.
Since January 2022, the Netherlands has been ruled by a Coalition Dutch Government. The four parties that contributed to the coalition government were the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), Democrats 66 (D66), Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) and Christian Union (CU). The Dutch government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte dissolved on 7 July 2023 after coalition parties failed to achieve unison on immigration policy. The parties could not agree on dealing with the issue, which has recently become increasingly polarized in the Netherlands.
Dutch Government Collapse: Factors Leading to the Crisis
The Dutch government coalition created 18 months ago, in January 2022, was thrown into disarray when Prime Minister Rutte recently proposed limiting the right to family reunions for migrants fleeing war zones to 200 persons per month after two years. The proposal was to reduce the number of migrants following a prior scandal concerning overcrowded migration centres.
The idea was rejected by two coalition parties, Democrats 66 and the Christian Union, significantly escalating the parties’ divisions. PM Rutte’s own People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) has been under internal pressure to limit the number of asylum seekers arriving in the Netherlands. The party’s most conservative members believe that the amount of refugees is overloading the country and that action must be taken to reduce the influx.
The D66 party and the smaller Christian Union, known as the coalition’s more progressive parties, have warned Prime Minister Rutte that they will not accept any measures that make it more difficult for refugees to enter the Netherlands.
According to a news agency, PM Rutte stated, “It is no secret that the coalition partners have very different views on migration policy. This evening, we have unfortunately reached the conclusion that the differences are insurmountable. For this reason, I will shortly present my written resignation to the king in the name of the whole government.”
Farmers Citizens Movement (BBB) – A threat to Mark Rutte’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD)
Mark Rutte, known for surviving one political crisis after another, is the longest-serving prime minister in Dutch history and, together with Hungary’s Viktor Orban, one of the European Union’s most senior leaders. Rutte has been serving as a Prime Minister since 2010. However, he had his worst Senate election result this year as Rutte’s party took the second position after being defeated by a populist pro-farmer party, Farmers Citizens Movement (BBB), in provincial elections. The Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB) became the Dutch upper house’s largest party after its win.
This act has upset the political establishment as the BBB has already set itself as the largest bloc in the Dutch Senate and will provide a serious challenge to Rutte’s VVD. This result may have incentivized Rutte to make every attempt to keep his coalition together until the end of his tenure in 2025. However, the disagreement on the immigration policy followed the government’s dissolution, further leading Rutte to submit his resignation to King Willem-Alexander on 8 July 2023. Currently, Rutte is acting in a demissionary capacity.
Future Implications of the Collapse
According to the Dutch election commission, the earliest new elections can be held is in mid-November 2023, owing to Dutch legislation, which gives time for new parties to register and polling locations to be organized, among other issues. The cabinet will serve as a caretaker administration until new elections are held.
In addition, as far as policymaking is concerned, it is expected to halt, putting decisions on contentious subjects like the housing market, climate change, and nitrogen limits on hold. The administration would prioritize responsibilities such as assisting Ukraine, which Russia invaded in February 2022.
Nonetheless, the caretaker cabinet must prepare a new budget for next year and present it in September 2023 on Budget Day, or Prinsjesdag. The budget will almost certainly rely heavily on existing initiatives.