Netherlands: New coalition pitches ‘strictest’ asylum coverage

A newly agreed-upon four-party coalition laid out its governing plans in a proposal published Thursday that can steer Dutch policies toward the hard right. 

Populist Geert Wilders‘ party PVV reached the coalition deal late Wednesday, almost six months after a major election victory

According to the agreement, the coalition will aim for the “strictest-ever asylum regime,” with stronger border controls and harsher rules for asylum seekers that arrive in the Netherlands.

“An opt out clause for European asylum and migration policies will be submitted as soon as possible to the European Commission,” the coalition said in its pact. 

The parties also want to curb labor migration and admittance of foreign students to Dutch universities.

What are the new Dutch coalition’s plans?

Apart from curbing migration, the coalition said it aims to build nuclear power reactors and expand offshore natural gas production.

The new government will “adhere to the existing agreements” on climate, but warned “if we don’t achieve the goals, we will make alternative policies,” the deal said. It also promised to ease the burden of environmental rules for farmers.

The Netherlands will maintain political and military support for Ukraine, the parties said, adding that they would make it legally binding to spend at least 2% of Dutch gross domestic product (GDP) on defense, in line with NATO agreements.

The agreement also stated that the new Dutch government would “examine” the idea of moving the Dutch embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Most countries do not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel — a city claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians — and keep their embassies in Tel Aviv. 

Which parties are in the new Dutch coalition?

Besides Wilders’ PVV, the deal brings together outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s center-right VVD, the conservative NSC party and farmers’ protest party BBB.

The four-party coalition has a majority of 88 seats in the 150-seat lower house of parliament.

“It’s a worrisome day. We now have a radical right-wing party under Wilders that finds itself at the center of power in the Netherlands,” said Frans Timmermans, opposition leader from the Greens-Left alliance who previously served as the EU’s climate chief.

The new coalition has not yet named a Cabinet.

Wilders himself had to forgo the prime minister role in order to get parties to agree to join coalition negotiations.

It is still unclear who will replace Rutte, who is widely expected to be the next NATO secretary-general. 

fb/ab (AFP, Reuters, AP)