After 13 years as Prime Minister of the Netherlands, during which he managed to survive successive scandals that affected four governments, Mark Rutte surprised the country – and the European Union, where he was the second leader longest serving government – announcing the end of his political career.
The announcement came unexpectedly, this Monday morning, at the start of a parliamentary debate to discuss the consequences of the fall of the Dutch government that Rutte formalized on Saturday, in audience with King Willem-Alexander.
At the end of last week, the Prime Minister announced the fall of the government due to “irreconcilable differences” between the four coalition partners on a proposal to reform asylum laws, but did not address the subject of his desire to stand for re-election. .to advance.
Until proven otherwise, he would again be the candidate of the Center-Right Liberal Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) to lead the government in the next elections, in November, on a date yet to be determined. .
The change of plans, which ends an era in the country’s politics, only became known on Monday, with the announcement that Rutte will remain at the head of the government, as interim Prime Minister, until the next elections.
At the same time, Rutte also announced his immediate departure from the leadership of the VVD – the party he had led since 2006 and which he had transformed into the country’s main political force from 2010.
“In recent days there has been a lot of speculation about what motivates me. The only answer is: the Netherlands,” Rutte said, in the final phase of his opening speech for the parliamentary session on Monday.
“My situation is completely contingent on that. On Sunday, I decided that I would not be available as leader of the VVD in the next elections. As soon as there is a new government, after the elections, I will leave politics,” said the Dutch Prime Minister.
At 56, and after 13 consecutive years at the head of the Dutch government, Rutte cannot help seeing his name linked to international functions, in particular that of Secretary General of NATO and President of the European Commission.
to place Politico, the current acting prime minister of the Netherlands, said on Monday he was not interested in international posts.
Taking the oath for the first time as head of government in October 2010, Rutte is the second oldest Prime Minister of the countries of the European Union, surpassed only by the Hungarian Viktor Orbán (May 2010).
The fall of the Dutch government (the fourth headed by Rutte) came after the rejection of a proposal by his party within the government coalition. Under a VVD proposal for a new asylum system, refugees from persecution would have more rights than war refugees.
The new system, rejected by D66 and the Christian Union (both centrist), and much criticized by immigrant and refugee aid organizations, would limit to 200 per month the number of family members of war refugees who would be allowed to enter the Netherlands to meet. with their families; and would force refugee children living in the country to wait two years to receive entry permits.
praises of the savages
Rutte’s announcement was received by the opposition – both left and right – with a mixture of satisfaction at the opportunity for a change in the country’s governance and praise for his dedication to the head of several governments.
Among the speeches of thanks to Rutte, the highlight was that of Geert Wilders, MP and leader of the far-right Freedom Party (PVV), who welcomed the proposal for reform of the asylum system championed by the VVD and supported by the other right-wing party in the government coalition, the CDA (Christian Democratic Appeal).
In his speech, Wilders – known for his positions against the immigration of citizens from Muslim-majority countries – called on other parties to “stop excluding the PVV” from the debate on immigration and asylum policies in the countries. -Down.
On the other hand, among the more left-wing parties, Rutte has been accused of causing a political crisis by bringing to the fore an “artificial discussion” on the asylum system, “to the detriment of the most vulnerable people”, according to Esther. Ouwehand, leader of the Party for Animals.
In a second intervention in the parliamentary debate on Monday, Rutte thanked the words of support he heard during the day: “ No when it comes to the most important issues, we stand side by side as husband and wife.”