Mark Rutte’s fourth Cabinet fell faster than his previous coalitions, with parties unable to repair the rift that emerged over policy to handle the influx of asylum seekers. The Cabinet’s fall came 543 days after it was sworn in by the king. It was his second consecutive Cabinet consisting of a coalition between the VVD, D66, CDA and ChristenUnie.
It is likely that new elections will take place sometime in the autumn. The exact date will be announced later. The opposition parties want elections as soon as possible, they said after learning the news later on Friday evening.
Before new elections are called, Prime Minister Mark Rutte must first officially present the resignation of his fourth Cabinet to the king. King Willem-Alexander must then officially dissolve the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of parliament. When that house is dissolved, it will also be decided when candidates can report for the elections. Voting will take place 44 days later, according to the Electoral Council. The entire process takes up to three months.
If parties want to participate in the new parliamentary elections, they must submit a registration request. This must be done 42 days before the day on which the participating parties must submit their lists of candidates. Parties which were then formed by breaking away from other factions during this government term, such as Wybren van Haga’s group, can register under a different name.
The big question in the upcoming elections will be whether Pieter Omtzigt, who has stepped away from the CDA and is sitting in the Tweede Kamer as a solo player, will participate in the elections by launching his own party. He has not yet responded to the Cabinet’s collapse.
Rutte’s first Cabinet held office for 558 days when Rutte made his way to the Queen Beatrix to submit his resignation. That was a minority Cabinet between the VVD and CDA with tolerance support from Geert Wilders’ PVV. It fell because Wilders did not agree to new austerity cuts.
The second Rutte Cabinet, of the VVD and PvdA, was the longest-serving Cabinet since World War II. It completely served its term between 2012 and 2017. The Rutte III Cabinet was then sworn in on October 26, 2017 and resigned on January 15, 2021. That was in response to the childcare benefits scandal that emerged after the tax office used an algorithm to unfairly profile benefits recipients and accused them of fraud often without evidence.
Since World War II, there have been three Cabinets shorter than Rutte IV. The shortest was the first Cabinet of CDA and LPF led by CDA member Jan Peter Balkenende. In 2002, they resigned after 86 days. The Van Agt II Cabinet, consisting of CDA, PvdA and D66, resigned in 1982 after 233 days and the first Cabinet of Barend Biesheuvel went down in 1973 after 380 days. His team consisted of ARP, KVP, CHU, VVD and DS’70.
Reporting by ANP