VVD supporters are likely to set Prime Minister Rutte on fire during the party congress this weekend. The right wing of the party wants Rutte to work on a stricter asylum policy. “What nitrogen is to the CDA, asylum is to the VVD.”
According to political journalist Leendert Beekman, the request of VVD supporters is simple. ‘In November last year, Rutte said he was committed to reducing the influx of asylum seekers. And according to several departments within the party, that hasn’t happened enough.’ Not only the classical liberals but also the JOVD believe that more needs to be done. This is also evident from a recent survey by EenVandaag.
The question is whether Rutte and party chairman Hermans have enough clout to push the plans through other coalition parties in the House of Representatives. On the one hand, the file is intact on the table and, on the other hand, the solutions are not there for the taking. After all, we have been talking about migration and asylum seekers since the 1990s. ‘The VVD has taken responsibility for government very often over the past 25 years. So if there was any low fruit, it would have been harvested. There are no easy solutions,’ says Beekman.
Because opinions are also divided within the coalition. D66 and ChristenUnie see nothing in asylum applications outside the EU. And there is also little enthusiasm for the cuts, making it less attractive for asylum seekers to come to the Netherlands. “These people are fleeing war and violence and are simply entitled to asylum. This right cannot be taken away from these people.”
Cards against the chest
The topic of asylum and labor migration is clearly a sensitive issue within the coalition. “Rutte has been saying for weeks that we have to be patient,” says Beekman. “She says she has a list of plans but she keeps the cards to her chest.” According to the prime minister, this is an international issue that needs to be discussed within the international community.
A concrete commitment from Rutte will therefore not be made at the party congress on Saturday. But according to Beekman, patience within the VVD has run out, both among supporters and within the faction. ‘We have already heard party chairman Hermans say he politely asked for action to be taken for the last time. And Ruben Brekelmans, the spokesman in this area, is also losing his temper.’
The question is whether the theme has become a breaking point within the party. ‘Prominent members of Parliament are now saying loudly that something needs to be done,’ says Beekman. This makes asylum Rutte’s biggest crisis within his party. “What nitrogen is to the CDA is asylum to the VVD.” A big problem without a ready-made solution.
Fernando Dowling is an author and political journalist who writes for 24 News Globe. He has a deep understanding of the political landscape and a passion for analyzing the latest political trends and news.