Until then, Rutte announced that he would remain in office as an executive and continue to take care of the tasks ahead, including supporting Ukraine against the Russian war of aggression. He still has the “energy” to run for new elections as the top candidate of his centre-right party VVD, but he has to “think about it” first.

Tensions within the ruling coalition had escalated, according to media reports, after Rutte’s VVD proposed stricter rules for asylum seekers and threatened to leave the cabinet if these measures were not passed. Among other things, Rutte had demanded that family reunification of refugees be made more difficult. Days of crisis talks between the coalition partners did not lead to an agreement, Rutte said on Friday evening.

The Christian Democratic party Christen Unie had declared that they “could not live with Rutte’s proposal”. Christen-Unie politician and Deputy Prime Minister Carola Schouten said it was a “central value” for her party that “children grow up with their parents”.

Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag’s center-left D66 party also reportedly rejected Rutte’s call for three-day crisis talks. Kaag described the fall of the government as “regrettable” and the tensions within the coalition as “unnecessary”.

Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra from the fourth coalition partner, the Christian Democratic CDA, called the breakup of the coalition “very disappointing” and “inexplicable to the people”.

The Dutch government has been at odds on the issue since it took office a year and a half ago. A scandal broke out last year when a baby died in an overcrowded asylum center and hundreds of people had to sleep outdoors.

Rutte’s previous government resigned in 2021 after a child benefit scandal. The 56-year-old has been Prime Minister since 2010 and is the longest-serving Prime Minister of the Netherlands.

The forthcoming election campaign is likely to be heated. The farmers-citizens movement (BBB), which was founded just four years ago and has gained strength as a result of the protests against the climate protection plans supported by the EU, also wants to win in the national parliamentary elections after a clear electoral success in the provincial elections in March.

Pressure from the BBB may also have contributed to the Dutch media’s fall of the government: Rutte wanted to be tough on asylum policy in order to distinguish himself from the right wing of his VVD party – since the BBB is now also trying to attract disappointed VVD voters.