Prime Minister Rutte still committed to reduce influx of asylum seekers
The personal commitment of VVD Chairman and Prime Minister Mark Rutte stands "unchallenged," as Rutte said at the party congress. At the last VVD congress in November, he had promised that the influx of asylum seekers would decrease significantly. So far, that has not happened, and critical members are running out of patience. Rutte claimed he would have taken "irresponsible risks" if he had forced Cabinet consultations to work out a package of measures before Saturday's party congress.
"That would be bad for the stability of the Cabinet," Rutte said. That stability is not sacrosanct, the VVD party leader explained, "but the result counts."
A section of the Cabinet, including Rutte, has been talking for months about a package of measures to reduce the influx of asylum seekers. Rutte reiterated at the conference that he expects the four coalition parties to reach an agreement before the summer. VVD and CDA favor stricter measures, while D66 and ChristenUnie insist on humane policies and legally defensible and implementable measures.
Rutte was sharply questioned by some critical VVD members who wanted to know what the Dutch prime minister's promise was still worth and when the number of asylum seekers would actually be reduced. Things got rough at times, to which Rutte also reacted sharply.
For instance, VVD party chairwoman Sophie Hermans called on Rutte to hurry with a package of measures to limit the influx of asylum seekers. "Mark, hurry up." She believes that the Cabinet can only go on holiday if that package is available.
According to the prime minister, hard work is being done, including in the European context, to stem the asylum influx. This year, the Cabinet expects 70,000 asylum seekers to arrive in the Netherlands.
Reporting by ANP