Dutch PM Rutte says he will not seek re-election

Outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte will not be the VVD leader in the upcoming election, he said before the start of a parliamentary debate on his latest Cabinet collapsing. “When the new Cabinet takes office after the elections, I will leave politics,” he said.

Rutte said he made his decision on Sunday. “There has been speculation over the past few days about what would motivate me. The only answer is the Netherlands. My position must be seen in that light.” He, therefore, decided not to make himself available to lead the VVD in the upcoming election.

Rutte stressed that his decision to leave politics was his own and entirely personal. He based it on the developments over the last few weeks. He’s notified the VVD leader in the Tweede Kamer and his party chair, he said.

The Rutte IV Cabinet collapsed on Friday over the crisis in asylum reception in the Netherlands. Rutte said that the coalition parties’ differences on the migration issue had proved irreconcilable, particularly on the point of family reunification for refugees – asylum seekers whose applications got approved and received residency in the Netherlands. The government planned to set extra restrictions on family reunification to slow the inflow of asylum seekers. The heavily criticized measure was eventually shot down by the Council of State, which called it illegal.

During the press conference on Friday, Rutte said he intended to stay on as outgoing Prime Minister on the caretaker Cabinet until a new Cabinet is installed. Various opposition parties, including left-wing bloc GroenLinks and PvdA and far-right PVV, have announced their intention to submit or support a motion of no confidence against Rutte during the parliamentary debate today. Should the motion pass, Rutte would have to step down immediately.

Rutte IV collapsed 543 days after being sworn in by the King. The Rutte III Cabinet also ended in a collapse, that one over the childcare allowance scandal in which the Tax Authority unjustly accused thousands of parents of fraud and left many in financial difficulties by revoking their benefits.

New elections are expected in the fall. The electoral council said they could be arranged from mid-November at the earliest. A majority of Dutch voters said they don’t want Rutte to return as Prime Minister.

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