Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the longest-serving premier in Dutch history, resigned on Friday, June 7, 2023, as the Dutch government collapsed due to irreconcilable disagreements within the four-party coalition regarding migration policies. The issue of migration has been a divisive topic across Europe. Consequently, the Netherlands will now face a general election later this year. Rutte and his government will continue to serve in a caretaker capacity until a new ruling coalition is formed.
Rutte acknowledged the stark differences in migration policy among the coalition partners, stating, “It is evident that the coalition partners hold contrasting perspectives on migration policy. Unfortunately, we have reached the point today where these differences are insurmountable. As a result, I will promptly submit the written resignation of the entire Cabinet to the king.”
Even before Mark Rutte officially confirmed his resignation, opposition lawmakers wasted no time in demanding fresh elections.
Geert Wilders Tweet
Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-immigration Party for Freedom, tweeted, “Quick elections now.” Across the political spectrum, Green Left leader Jesse Klaver also called for elections and told Dutch broadcaster NOS: “This country needs a change of direction.”
Rutte had presided over late-night meetings Wednesday and Thursday that failed to result in a deal on migration policy. At one final round of talks Friday evening, the parties decided unanimously that they could not agree and, as a result, could not remain together in the coalition.
The decision highlighted the ideological divisions that have persisted since the coalition’s inauguration just over 18 months ago. On one side are the parties that do not advocate for a strict crackdown on migration, namely D66 and the centrist Christian Union. On the other side are Rutte’s conservative People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy and the Christian Democrats, who favor more stringent measures.
Similar discussions are going on across political divides elsewhere in Europe as migrants fleeing conflict or seeking a better life make perilous sea crossings from northern Africa to reach the continent. Hundreds of thousands of people also have fled the grinding war in Ukraine.