Immigration Impasse Triggers Collapse of Dutch Government
FAIR Take | July 2023
On Friday, the Dutch Government collapsed when the four ruling coalition parties could not agree on a new asylum policy. The following day, Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the Netherlands’ longest-serving prime minister, met King Willem-Alexander to hand in his resignation, but agreed to lead a caretaker government until new elections. Those elections are expected in November.
Mr. Rutte had been negotiating for months over a package of measures to reduce the flow of new migrants into the Netherlands. Mr. Rutte proposed creating two types of asylum: temporary one for people fleeing conflicts and a permanent one for people escaping persecution. He also proposed limiting the number of family members allowed to join asylum seekers inside the country and imposing a two-year waiting period.
The Prime Minister, however, could not reach agreement with the parties in his ruling coalition. Mr. Rutte’s party, the Forum for Democracy (VVD) and the Christian Democrat Appeal (CDA) supported these measures. The center-left D66 and Christian Union parties opposed them.
Among European leaders, Mr. Rutte had emerged as a steadfast advocate for curbing migration to the European Union. Mr. Rutte was also a strong supporter of Europe-wide migration-management tools like the joint European Union border agency. Support for these policies has grown in the Netherlands, which, like other countries, in Europe, have experienced a dramatic growth in asylum-seekers. Over the past year, asylum applications in the Netherlands jumped by over 30 percent to more than 47,000. They are now projected to reach 70,000 applications in 2023—surpassing the 2015 record.
Dutch analysts say that a critical issue that has generated concern in the Netherlands over migration is a chronic lack of affordable housing, combined with the reality that the country, with its growing population and sprawling agricultural sector, is running out of space.