Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, has announced that he would leave politics following the collapse of his coalition government, bringing the Netherlands’ longest-serving leader’s career to an abrupt conclusion.
Rutte, who has headed four coalition governments since 2010, announced his resignation following the alliance’s collapse in a migration row in November.
“I would like to say something personal. There has been speculation over the past few days about what motivates me. The only answer is the Netherlands,” Rutte told parliament.
“Yesterday morning, I took the decision that I am no longer suitable to be the new head of the list for the VVD (his centre-right party).
“When the new government is sworn in after the elections, I will quit politics.”
Rutte, Europe’s second-longest-serving leader after Hungary’s Viktor Orban, went on to say that it was his “personal assessment independent of the events of the past week.”
The decision surprised many because Rutte declared in a press conference on Friday that he had the “energy” to run for a fifth term, but that he would think about it.
Rutte, who has earned the nickname “Teflon Premier” for his ability to avoid being stained by political scandals, declared at the time that he would serve in a caretaker position until elections, which won’t take place until at least mid-November.
But a vote in parliament scheduled for later on Monday will attempt to remove him from his position as interim premier.
A motion of no-confidence in Rutte has been submitted by two left-wing opposition parties as well as the far-right party of anti-Islam leader Geert Wilders.