The Dutch Government Collapses Due to Immigration Disagreements

The Dutch government collapsed on Friday after parties in the ruling coalition failed to reach agreement on migration policy, underscoring how the problem of asylum seekers coming to Europe continues to divide governments across the continent.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who oversees his fourth cabinet and is one of Europe's longest-serving leaders, told reporters on Friday he would present his resignation to the king.

“It's no secret that the coalition partners have very different views on migration policy,” Rutte told reporters in The Hague on Friday. “And today, unfortunately, we have to draw the conclusion that those differences are irreconcilable.”

The government's disintegration precipitated new elections in the fall, and a caretaker government headed by Mr Rutte would remain in place until then.

For months, parties in the coalition government have struggled to reach an agreement on migration, debating the terms of family reunification and whether to create two classes of asylum: temporary ones for people fleeing conflict, and permanent ones for people fleeing conflict. persecution.

Dutch news organizations report that Mr Rutte has asked to limit entry for children of war refugees who are already in the Netherlands and make families wait at least two years before they can be reunited. Mr Rutte denied the report, according to Dutch broadcaster NOS.

But the argument about migration policy continues to be divided by the Dutch government, which already has tougher immigration policies than some other EU countries. This week, two parties in the governing coalition, Christian Unity and the centrist D66, decided they could not reconcile with Mr Rutte's party, leading to a crisis in the government.

“One of the important values ​​in the proposal is that children grow up with their parents,” said a statement from the Christian Unity party. “As a family party, that's what we stand for.” The party says it wants to work with heart and soul for a humane and effective migration policy.

Migration has proven to be an intractable issue among many European voters and political parties, fueling the popularity of right-wing and nationalist parties across the continent, and drawing sharp criticism from rights activists for the way governments treat migrants. Last year, the Dutch aid agency struggling to help hundreds of asylum seekers living in makeshift camps outside the overcrowded reception centres, in what aid workers described as deplorable conditions.

Last year, more than 21,000 people from outside the European Union sought asylum in the Netherlands, according to Dutch government. More than 400,000 people immigrated to the Netherlands overall in 2022, the office said, an increase from the previous year.

The large influx of migrants has put a strain on the Dutch housing capacity, which is already suffering lack for a country of over 17 million people.

The ruling parties in the Dutch government have met repeatedly in recent days to try to find common ground, and Mr. Rutte met Friday night for his own talk.

“We talked for a long time, we came here tonight because we didn't make it,” defense minister Kajsa Ollongren told reporters as she walked into a cabinet meeting, according to The Associated Press.

“Everyone wants to find a good and effective solution that is also compatible with the fact that it concerns human lives,” Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag, a member of the D66 party, said before talks began.

Over the last decade, as thousands have sought asylum in the European Union from Africa and the Middle East, right-wing parties against immigration have gained popularity across the 27-member bloc. In some countries, their success has encouraged parties of the right and center to move further to the right on immigration and asylum policies.

In June, Spain's far-right Vox party did better than expected in regional elections, and last fall, Democrat Sweden, a party with roots in the neo-Nazi movement, won 20.5 percent vote in Sweden, being the second largest party in Parliament.

In France, far-right leader Marine Le Pen, long anti-immigration, reached the final round of last year's presidential election. In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has come to power in part by denouncing immigration.

And last year Italy voted for a right-wing coalition led by Giorgia Meloni, whose long record of criticizing immigration and the European Union has raised concerns about the nation's reliability in a Western alliance.

Mr Rutte has supported EU efforts to limit migration, visiting Tunisia last month with Ms Meloni and EU leader, Ursula Von der Leyen. Together statementleaders said the European Union would provide 100 million euros, or about $109 million, to Tunisia for “border management” and search and rescue and anti-trafficking efforts.

The last time Mr Rutte and his cabinet resigned was in 2021 over a report that highlighted the systemic failure by his government to protect thousands of families from overzealous tax inspectors. But Mr Rutte weathered the crisis, emerging as the Dutch leader again after nine months of negotiations that December.