Tue, 26 September 2023
The Daily Ittefaq

Netherlands' government to resign amid asylum row

Update : 08 Jul 2023, 01:52

The Dutch government has collapsed after just a year and a half in office after failing to reach a common position on asylum policies. Talks between the four parties on Friday bore no fruit, domestic media reported.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's coalition government collapsed after just a year and a half in office on Friday in a row over measures to curb the flow of migrants, local media reported.

Rutte, the Netherlands' longest-serving leader, presided over crisis talks between the four coalition partners but failed to reach a deal, broadcasters NOS and RTL and the Dutch news agency ANP reported.

There was no immediate statement from Rutte or members of the coalition. They did not immediately leave the venue for the talks in The Hague to speak to waiting media.

Rutte, the leader of the center-right VVD party, the largest in the four-party coalition, had wanted to tighten curbs on reuniting families of asylum seekers, following a scandal last year about overcrowded asylum centers.

He called for the number of relatives of war refugees allowed into the Netherlands to be capped at 200 per month, and had threatened to topple the government if the measure did not pass.

Two junior partners, including the Christen Unie — a Christian Democratic party that draws its main support from the protestant "Bible Belt" in the central Netherlands — was staunchly opposed to the proposal.

Both Christen Unie and D66, the left-leaning party in the rainbow coalition, saw the issue as less of a problem than Rutte's VVD.

The four parties had held crisis talks on Wednesday and Thursday as well in a bid to save the shaky government, which only took office in January 2022.

Asylum applications in the Netherlands jumped by a third last year to more than 46,000, and the government had projected they could increase to more than 70,000 this year, which would top the previous high from 2015.

Asylum and migration is a difficult issue for Rutte and has been for years because of the strength of far-right parties in the Netherlands, most famously that of Geert Wilders, and the threat this poses to center-right parties like his VVD.

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