The Netherlands’ Rutte is going to say goodbye to politics


Mark Rutte, the Netherlands’ prime minister (and longest-serving leader), announced a few days after the fall of his coalition government that he was going to bid farewell to politics.

“I made the decision yesterday morning that I am no longer suitable to be the new head of the list for the VVD. When the new government is sworn in after the election, I will retire from politics,” he said in parliament on Monday morning.

His coalition government collapsed on Friday after a dispute over migration policy.

The coalition government led by Rutte and his conservative People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) has been in power in the Netherlands for the past year and a half.

However, the VVD and its three coalition partners, Democrats 66 (D66), Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) and the Christian Union (CU), have been divided over migration for some time.

An election is expected to be held in November.

Rutte, who has led four coalition governments since 2010, plans to step down after that.

However, a vote still faces him in parliament today after two left-wing opposition parties and the far-right party of the anti-Islamic leader Geert Wilders submitted a motion of no confidence in him.

The support of at least one of the four parties in Rutte’s coalition – which has since fallen – is necessary for the motion to succeed.

Jesse Klaver, leader of the GroenLinks party, which is one of those trying to unseat Rutte, says Rutte brought down the government because of “his own political interest”. The party requires an acting prime minister until the election is held.

Wilders, known for his inflammatory rhetoric on immigration, says that an “outgoing prime minister can also be forced to give way. We will try it.”

‘Teflon Mark’ no longer clings

The Dutch dubbed Rutte “Teflon Mark” because various scandals during his four terms in office always slid off him like pancakes from a non-stick pan.

Rutte survived a previous resignation and multiple re-elections because of his “Jan Alleman” image.

He likes to cycle through the streets of The Hague while munching on an apple on his way to meetings with foreign leaders.

He describes himself as a “man of habit and tradition” who has lived in The Hague all his life and works part-time as a volunteer teacher.

However, Rutte’s coalition government collapsed on Friday over a proposal to limit the number of family members who may join an asylum seeker in the Netherlands. The proposal was made to reduce the number of refugees pouring into the country and follows a scandal over overcrowded migrant centers last year.

The parties ChristenUnie and Democrats 66 strongly opposed Rutte’s plan.

The elections for a post-Rutte era are expected to be the most divisive elections in a generation, thanks to difficult issues such as migration, great dissatisfaction among farmers and rising costs of living in the Netherlands.