Rutte is Breaking News


July 7, 2023




  Robin Utrecht/EPA, via Shutterstock 


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

Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who was overseeing his fourth cabinet and is one of Europe’s longest-serving leaders, told reporters on Friday that he would submit his resignation to the king.

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

The disintegration of the government triggers new general elections in the fall, and a caretaker government headed by Mr. Rutte will remain in place until then.


For months, the parties in the coalition government had struggled to come to an agreement about migration, debating terms of family reunification and whether to create two classes of asylum: a temporary one for people fleeing conflicts, and a permanent one for people fleeing persecution.

Dutch news organizations reported that Mr. Rutte had called for limiting the entrance for children of war refugees who were already in the Netherlands and for making families wait at least two years before they could be reunited. Mr. Rutte denied those reports, according to the Dutch broadcaster NOS.

But arguments about migration policy continued to split the Dutch government, which already has tougher immigration policies than some other E.U. nations. This week, two parties in the governing coalition, the Christian Union and the centrist D66, determined that they could not come to terms with Mr. Rutte’s party, leading to a crisis in the government.


“One of the values that are important with the proposals is that children grow up with their parents,” a statement by the Christian Union party said. “As a family party, that is what we stand for.” The party said it wanted to work with “heart and soul for a humane and effective migration policy.”

Migration has proved an intractable issue among many European voters and political parties, fueling the popularity of nationalistic and right-wing parties around the continent, and leading to sharp criticism from rights activists over how governments have treated migrants. Last year, Dutch aid agencies struggled to help hundreds of asylum seekers who were living in a makeshift camp outside an overcrowded reception center, in what aid workers described as dismal conditions.