Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the “firmness” he showed this week during discussions with other Cabinet was not constructive, but that was not the reason for this fourth Cabinet’s collapse on Friday. He does not blame himself, saying only that he “could have presented his objections more kindly.”
Rutte said, “That was not the reason the Cabinet fell.” The current Cabinet will continue in a caretaker capacity, with elections likely in November. Rutte said he does not yet know whether he will be available again as party leader, and will take time to think about it. “If you ask me now, I would say yes,” the prime minister said, giving his standard answer. “But it’s also up to the party.”
Other parties did point their finger at the current VVD leader for the collapse of the Cabinet. CDA party chairman Pieter Heerma called his attitude bordering on reckless and “irresponsibly harsh,” when speaking to Nieuwsuur.
Rutte put pressure on the negotiations by grilling ChristenUnie over there position on the influx of asylum seekers, and threatening a rare roll call vote during the Council of Ministers meeting over the matter, sources said. Heerma thinks that “borders on reckless politics”.
Rutte is mainly to blame for the fall of the Cabinet, said D66 Tweede Kamer leader Jan Paternotte on television program Op1. By coming up with an extra requirement this week about family reunification, Rutte put the matter on edge, Paternotte believes. He also said he does not understand the tactic of the VVD leader who is normally always looking for solutions.
Heerma finds it “very regrettable” and “not good for the Netherlands” that it was not possible to find a solution for the stalled asylum portfolio. According to the CDA party leader, Rutte has not contributed to finding solutions and compromises regarding the asylum issue with the way in which he played politics in recent days. Heerma said he cannot answer the question whether Rutte deliberately directed the fall of the cabinet. “That is a question that Mr Rutte must answer himself,” he later told ANP.
The fall of the Cabinet is “unnecessary,” Deputy Prime Minister and CDA leader Wopke Hoekstra said. It is inexplicable that the four ruling parties have not been able to bridge their differences, he continued, calling it a “very disappointing” decision. The asylum problems will only get bigger due to the fall of the Cabinet and not smaller, Hoekstra expects.
Hoekstra said he had urged other parties to continue talking. “It would have been worth it to see if you could have worked it out.” Asked about the role of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the CDA leader said that “this obviously did not help in the process.” But it is more important that parties have “a great responsibility” to “jump over their own shadow.”
ChristenUnie Party leader Mirjam Bikker said that she has “weighed” the various proposals for asylum policy that were on the table and that she was prepared to go to great lengths to keep migration manageable, but that it was not possible with the other coalition parties “to arrive at a package” that they could all support. Her party was rumored to have said they were pulling out of the coalition deal.
“For us, one of the values that is important in proposals is that children grow up with their parents, so that they can take care of them. As a family party, we stand for that,” said Bikker. According to her, the ChristenUnie wants a humane and effective asylum and migration policy. “That is necessary. For the people who need protection the most, in the region, in Europe and, if necessary, in the Netherlands.”
But according to Bikker, there must also be an eye for the pressure on society. “That is why it is important to discuss measures that ensure controlled migration, especially for labor and also for asylum. We were prepared to go far with this.”
She supports the fact that Prime Minister Rutte has offered the resignation of the cabinet to the king on Friday and that he wants to continue to form a government with the current coalition on a caretaker basis.
D66 leader and Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag finds the situation “regrettable.” Given the major challenges facing the Netherlands, “No one benefits from a standstill due to a political crisis,” said Kaag, who is also a Deputy Prime Minister.
Without pointing out a guilty party, Kaag insists on the importance of compromise in Dutch politics, where no party can count on a majority. “We take each other into account. This is the only way we can come up with supported solutions.” According to her, it is “give and take, even if it is sometimes difficult”. The deputy prime minister did speak of “unnecessary tension” in the talks about asylum this week.
Like Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Kaag notes that the differences between the parties turned out to be “irreconcilable”. According to her, this was not the fault of D66, that party “entered into the talks constructively” and looked for “the right tone, attitude and content”.
When asked, Kaag did not yet want to say whether she wants to be the party leader for D66 again in the upcoming parliamentary elections. “I do not know yet.” She recently hinted in the television program College Tour that she has doubts about her political future. Her security detail has intensified due to serious threats against her.
“As the CDA, we have done everything we can to come up with a package that actually gets a grip on all those forms of migration. However, these are often measures that will not bring results tomorrow, but must be laid down in legislation,” Heerma said. The fact that a deadline was then set by the VVD and threats were made with roll call votes in the Council of Ministers was inappropriate in Heerma’s view.
Reporting by ANP