Prime Minister Mark Rutte blew up the fourth Rutte government on Friday evening, much to everyone’s disbelief. As a result, the Netherlands was left with a host of major problems that would not be resolved quickly. It is difficult to understand this from the prime minister who has always said that he puts the national interest first.
It was a pure example of power politics that the leader of the VVD party demonstrated last week. The Prime Minister sharpened the debate on limiting immigration in the Cabinet, knowing that this would immediately come against the Christian Union. The smallest coalition party had major “principled” objections to restricting family reunification for asylum seekers, and Rota was well aware of this.
VVD wants to stop BBB’s advance
The reason the prime minister has gone on a collision course is mainly partisan politics. The leader of the VVD is under pressure from his supporters to show a right-wing liberal face again. He promised them that too. The loss of the VVD in the provincial council elections shook the party leadership. The VVD is convinced that something must be changed to stop the progress of the BBB.
Rutty, who had made concessions like a magician on numerous subjects for twelve years, could have done the same on the immigration file. The coalition had already approved more than 90 percent of migration agreements in recent months. But Rota chose not to.
Why not? The impression is that the VVD – in dropping the government on this issue – thinks it has a wonderful electoral issue on its hands. And it immediately puts Mark Rutte in position to lead the VVD roster once again.
Not an egg from Columbus
Rota defends the Cabinet’s fundamental fallacy, arguing that real solutions are necessary to the migration crisis. And it is true that immigration is a concern for voters on the left and right. But the proposal to limit family reunification is not a Columbus egg at all. The Netherlands had something like this before, but that was scrapped in the 1990s. It was ineffective and basically led to endless lawsuits.
The VVD also refers to Germany, where the restriction of family reunification has been possible since 2017. But there, too, the procedure is already under discussion. This makes the VVD proposal debatable at best. Even whether it was worth bringing down the government is questionable.
A month earlier, when addressing the report of the Investigative Committee in Groningen, Rutte himself had called the overthrow of the government in times of war “irresponsible”. He should have taken those wise words more seriously last week.
Comments are the opinion of Trouw as expressed by members of the editorial board and senior editors.
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