Netherlands's longest-serving PM Rutte announces departure from politics

Rutte recently announced his resignation following differences in the coalition govt

Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte | Reuters

Netherlands' longest-serving prime minister Mark Rutte on Monday said he would leave politics after the general election. Rutte was in power for more than 13 years.

Rutte, the 56-year-old leader of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, or VVD, announced his decision at a hastily arranged parliamentary debate to discuss the fall of his latest governing coalition.

“Yesterday morning I made a decision that I will not be available again as a leader of the VVD. When a new Cabinet takes office after the elections, I will leave politics,” he said. Rutte called it a personal decision, regardless of the developments in recent weeks.

The Guardian quoted Rutte as saying, “In the past few days, people have speculated about what motivates me, and the only answer is: the Netherlands. My position in this regard is now completely unsuitable.” 

Rutte's four-party ruling coalition resigned Friday after failing to agree on a package of measures to rein in migration. He said it was a unanimous decision by the four partner parties prompted by irreconcilable differences.

The coalition collapsed over Rutte's resignation to tighten curbs on asylum seekers. Rutte reportedly wanted to tighten curbs on reuniting asylum seekers' families, to prevent a situation like the overcrowding scandal.

His decision means the end of more than 13 years in power for the conservative leader sometimes called 'Teflon Mark' because scandals that plagued his four different administrations did not stick to him.

There was no immediate indication of who might replace Rutte as leader of the VVD. The party's parliamentary faction is led by Sophie Hermans, Rutte's former political assistant. No date has yet been set for the election, but it is not expected before October or November.

(With PTI inputs.)

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