Dutch Government Collapses Over Migration Row
The Hague, July 7 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 8th Jul, 2023 ) :Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's coalition government collapsed on Friday due to a bitter row about migration measures, with opposition parties calling for swift elections.
Rutte, 56, the Netherlands' longest-serving leader, chaired crisis talks between the four coalition parties but they were unable to reach a deal, Dutch broadcasters said.
The coalition, Rutte's fourth since 2010, took office in January 2022 after record-breaking negotiations but the parties have been at odds ever since over issues including the flow of migrants.
Rutte, the leader of the centre-right VVD party, had wanted to tighten curbs on reuniting families of asylum seekers, following a scandal last year about overcrowded migration centres in the Netherlands.
- 'Not a happy marriage' - Local media said Rutte -- dubbed "Teflon Mark" after the non-stick pan coating for his political slipperiness -- had taken a tough stance on migration to deflect a challenge from the right-wing of his party.
The coalition -- which local media said was "not a happy marriage" -- last year faced a major scandal over overcrowded migration centres in which a baby died and hundreds of people were forced to sleep in the open.
Rutte had promised a "structural solution" to the problem after what he called "shameful scenes" at the asylum centres.
But the Christen Unie -- a Christian Democratic party that draws its main support from the staunchly Protestant "Bible Belt" in the central Netherlands -- strongly opposed the plan to cap refugee family member numbers.
After three days of talks, a compromise on a so-called "emergency button" -- that would have only triggered the restrictions in case of large migrant numbers -- was not enough to reach a deal on Friday.
"I'm quite concerned. I'm worried what the next cabinet is going to look like," said 19-year-old IT worker Marijn Philippo.
"I hope that the next cabinet will do better than this one, especially in terms of asylum," added Pieter Balkenende, 32.
Europe's second-longest-serving leader after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is now expected to call elections.
Rutte has long been under pressure on the issue of migration due to the strength of far-right parties in the Netherlands, including that of anti-Islam leader Geert Wilders.
Rutte's backroom political skills have seen him navigate his way to the top of four successive coalition governments -- but he has had several close escapes.
In 2017 he was widely criticised for tacking to the right ahead of elections in a bid to keep Wilders out of power, at a time when populist parties were surging in the wake of the 2016 Brexit vote and election of Donald Trump.