Rutte’s possible departure to lead NATO increases political uncertainty in the Netherlands |  International

Rutte’s possible departure to lead NATO increases political uncertainty in the Netherlands | International

Rutte’s possible departure to lead NATO increases political uncertainty in the Netherlands |  International

NATO employs a new Secretary General and Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the European Union in the past elections of November 22, is the principal (and one of the first) candidates to succeed the new Jens Stoltenberg, whose mandate ends at the 1st October. The Dutchman has many options, but negotiations to reach an agreement on a new coalition in his country have stalled. If NATO approves his appointment without there being a Dutch government yet, the problem would be political: there is no precedent in the country’s recent history for a head of the executive to leave office in these conditions with the instability that this can cause.

Rutte is accumulating support to replace Stoltenberg. Only the Dutch politician openly ran as a candidate and enjoys the support of a good majority of the 31 members of the Alliance, including three heavyweights: France, the United Kingdom and the United States. Although the decision was taken unanimously, Hungary and Turkey have not yet agreed.

“We are facing an unprecedented situation in the recent political history of the Netherlands, because a prime minister has never left office before another is appointed,” explains law professor Ingrid Leijten by telephone. constitutional studies at Tilburg University. “It does not appear that a new coalition will be concluded in the Netherlands in the near future, so it is possible that if Rutte moves to Brussels, he will do so in this interim government context,” he adds.

“This will not be a legal problem, because the Council of Ministers will be able to appoint a new Prime Minister without the intervention of Parliament,” explains Leijten. It is possible that another minister – probably from Rutte’s party, the liberal right-wing VVD – will take his place. “But the real underlying problem is the long process of forming a coalition,” comments the professor. “Dutch governments fall quite easily and, given the large number of parties represented in Parliament, it is difficult to reach an agreement quickly. » This is a complex process, with no rules establishing “a time limit for reaching an agreement.” It is not established that the party with the most votes must be part of the government or that “or that the Prime Minister belongs to the winning group”, adds Leijten.

Although an interim Dutch government cannot make controversial or far-reaching decisions, it does not ignore the urgency of the current international situation. “The problem of Rutte’s possible departure to the Alliance will be political and not constitutional,” confirms political scientist Tom van der Meer of the University of Amsterdam. According to him, the figure of the Prime Minister has become more important in recent decades, “in particular because of the weight of the European Union”. Hence its growing visibility. Rutte announced his retirement from politics in July 2023, after the breakup of the fourth coalition he had led consecutively since 2010. He said he would not run for re-election and might opt ​​for reelection. ‘education. After a period of relative silence, his name circulated in Brussels for his talents as a negotiator. He had not closed the door on a position of this type.

Negotiations to form a new executive in the Netherlands have returned to square one after almost three months of failed meetings between the four right-wing parties – including the far-right party of Geert Wilders, winner of the elections – which obtained the most votes. A new mediator has been appointed and has four months to sound out all parties on the type of coalition they prefer. On the Dutch national level, Van der Meer suggests it is not so much a question of whether Wilders will become prime minister. “It is possible that it will be agreed that the leaders of the parties who agree will remain in Parliament without appearing at the Council of Ministers. The Prime Minister could then be an external professional figure,” he underlines.

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Norwegian Jens Stoltenberg’s term officially ends in October, although NATO wants an earlier appointment, perhaps to separate him from key European roles – such as the Commission presidency – which will be decided between July and October.

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