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Dutch Government Dissolves Over Refugee Policy

Dutch Government Collapses Forcing New Election. Graphic made by Mason Malloy.

The Coalition Falls Apart

The four-party government coalition led by the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy(VVD) and Prime Minister Mark Rutte, a centre-right party, dissolved over an immigration policy dispute. The VVD pushed for reform that would limit the number of refugees, particularly children, and would force families to wait two years before being united again. The Christian Union(CU) and Democrats 66 (D66), both centrist parties, broke from VVD on the policy, resulting in the breakdown of the government coalition.

“It’s no secret that the coalition partners have differing opinions about immigration policy. Today we, unfortunately, have to conclude that those differences have become insurmountable. Therefore I will tender the resignation of the entire cabinet to the king,” Rutte said. Rutte will hold the position of caretaker PM until the Autumn election. He also announced will not be leading the party into the election, saying he will step away from politics altogether after thirteen years as Prime Minister.

Some people see Rutte’s decision to dissolve government as a power play, designed to help VVD gain more support, believing that a majority of Dutch people will side with VVD on the immigration policy. The opposition of Labour and Green Left parties are filing for a vote of no-confidence to oust Rutte and appoint a new caretaker PM.

Who Takes Control?

Earlier this year, a new party took control of the Dutch Senate. The Farmer-Citizen Movement or BBB, a right-wing to a far-right populist party focused on farmers took 16 seats, becoming the majority in the Senate in their first election. 

BBB formed in the wake of the 2019 farmers’ protest against new government limits on nitrogen. Nitrogen’s impact on the environment is broad. Too much Nitrogen can reduce the amount of food being grown and its quality. The impact on the human body can result in illnesses and producing acid rain.

The BBB has gained support from anti-government and the far-right. Both groups push the idea that green politics and policies are a way for the government to control people. As a result, many voters from the FvD, a far-right party, shifted towards BBB. 

Current polling has BBB leading the way with 27 seats, with VVD in second with 20 seats. However, for a majority, a party or a coalition needs 76 seats. There are only two potential coalitions that could form with enough for a majority.

Either a right-to-far-right coalition with VVD and BBB at the helm. Another potential government is a left-centre coalition with VVD and the Labour Party-Green Left alliance leading it. The former seems to be the most likely, as voters of VVD would prefer a coalition with BBB. The latter is possible if the left over-performs poll expectations or BBB or other right-wing parties underperform. 

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