Dutch PM tenders resignation as government collapses over immigration

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte visited the king on Saturday to hand him the resignation of his four-party coalition, steering a deeply divided Netherlands into a general election this year.

King Willem-Alexander flew back from a family vacation in Greece.a to meet Rutte, who drove to the palace in his Saab van for the meeting to explain the political crisis that toppled his administration.

Rutte refused to answer questions from reporters as he walked away from the meeting, which lasted more than an hour, saying the talks with the monarch were private.

The controversial issue of controlling migration that has concerned countries across Europe for years was the latest stumbling block that brought down the Rutte government on Friday night, exposing the deep ideological differences between the four parties that made up the uneasy coalition.

Now he is likely to dominate the campaign for an election that is still months away.

“We are the party that can guarantee a majority to significantly restrict the flow of asylum seekers,” said Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-immigration Freedom Party, which supported Rutte’s first minority coalition 13 years ago. but he finally overthrew her. .

The left opposition parties also want the election focus on tackling issues Rutte is accused of failing to adequately address, from climate change to chronic housing shortages to the future of the nation’s multibillion-dollar agricultural sector.

Socialist Party leader Lilian Marijnissen told Dutch broadcaster NOS that the collapse of the Rutte government was “good news for the Netherlands. I think everyone felt that this Cabinet was done. They have created more problems than they have solved.”

Despite the divisions between the four parties in Rutte’s governmentwill remain in power as an interim administration until a new coalition is formed, but will not pass major new laws.

“Given the challenges of the times, a war on this continent, no one benefits from a political crisis,” tweeted Sigrid Kaag, leader of the centrist pro-European D66 party.

Rutte, longest-serving Prime Minister of the Netherlands and a veteran A consensus builder, he appeared to be the one prepared to torpedo his fourth coalition government with tough demands in negotiations on how to reduce the number of migrants seeking asylum in his country.

Rutte negotiated for months a package of measures to reduce the flow of new immigrants arriving in the country of almost 18 million people. The proposals reportedly included creating two types of asylum, a temporary one for people fleeing conflict and a permanent one for people trying to escape persecution, and reducing the number of family members who can join the asylum seekers in the Netherlands. The minority coalition party ChristenUnie strongly opposed the idea of ​​blocking family members.

“I think unnecessary tension was introduced” into the talks, Kaag said.

Pieter Heerma, the leader of the Christian Democrats, a coalition partner, called Rutte’s approach in the talks “almost reckless.”

The fall of the government comes just months after a new populist pro-farmer party, the Citizen Movement of Farmers, known by its Dutch acronym BBB, shocked the political establishment by winning the provincial elections. The party is already the largest bloc in the Dutch Senate and will be a serious threat to Rutte’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy.

BBB leader Caroline van der Plas he said his party would dust off the provincial vote campaign posters and return.

“The campaign has started!” Van der Plas said in a tweet that he was showing supporters of his party hanging flags and banners from light poles.

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