Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the Netherlands’s longest-serving prime minister, said on Monday that he would step aside as his party’s leader and would be leaving politics in the coming months after his governing coalition collapsed last week.
Mr. Rutte came to power in 2010 and earned the name “Teflon Mark” for his ability to weather political storms, but the failure of the four parties in his coalition to come to an agreement on the country’s migration policies set the stage for elections in the fall.
The leader of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, Mr. Rutte, 56, remains in charge of a caretaker government.
“This isn’t entirely without emotion,” he told reporters, according to the broadcaster NOS. “But it feels good to pass the baton.”
Caroline van der Plas, leader of the Farmer-Citizen Movement, a pro-farmer party that swept local elections in the Netherlands this year, said that she welcomed the chance for voters to go to the polls this fall. Attje Kuiken, leader of the Labor Party, said on Twitter this weekend that “Mark Rutte is done governing.”
Mr. Rutte’s coalition collapsed after he failed to convince the more centrist members of his coalition to back more restrictive migration policies, a sign of the potency of that issue in European politics.
The government had been negotiating the terms of family reunification for refugees and also whether to create two classes of asylum: a temporary one for people fleeing conflicts, and a permanent one for people fleeing persecution.
The goal of both proposals was to reduce the number of refugees, a reflection of the desire to head off right-wing parties outside the coalition who have been making political inroads by tapping into voter concerns about immigration.
The other coalition parties were ready to agree to the two-tier asylum system, but they would not endorse Mr. Rutte’s proposal for a two-year waiting period before refugees already living in the Netherlands could be joined by their children.
That impasse ultimately led Mr. Rutte to offer the resignation of his government to King Willem-Alexander in writing on Friday night.
Mr. Rutte has long been known for a no-nonsense approach to politics and a modest lifestyle. He pays for his own coffees. When attending public events, he stands in line with everyone else. In true Dutch fashion, he prefers to ride his bicycle to work. On Saturday, Mr. Rutte drove himself to see the king in a Saab he has had for years.
Mr. Rutte’s tenure has not been without scandal. In 2021, his government collapsed after a report showed a systemic failure by his government to protect thousands of families from overzealous tax inspectors.