The fourth government of Mark Rutte, 56, the Netherlands’ longest-serving prime minister, collapsed on Friday evening as coalition partners were seemingly incapable of coming to a compromise on the issue of migration and asylum policy. This marks the third time since coming to power in 2010 that a Rutte government failed to complete a full term in office.
While Rutte appeared to try to take a harder line on migration in negotiations with his cabinet, some have questioned whether this was merely a political calculation to put himself in a position of strength in a fresh round of elections, which many have speculated would occur this year following the stunning regional elections that saw the insurgent populist Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB) become the largest party in the Senate and throughout regional governments earlier this year.
Responding to the collapse of the Rutte government, Dutch political commentator Eva Vlaardingerbroek said: “I think the actual fall of the cabinet itself is all for show. The ‘disagreement’ about immigration that they’re mentioning as the deciding factor, is not the real issue, because all government parties are in favour of more mass migration, including Mark Rutte’s VVD.
“Rutte just seems to think that he can trick the Dutch people into believing that he actually wants a stricter immigration policy this time around, and he thinks he can get re-elected again if he makes these false new promises.
“Do not fall for it. We cannot let him win again.”