Dutch cabinet resigns

The Hague, 26 October 2017. The new Dutch government, the third cabinet under leadership of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, with King Willem-Alexander in front of the Noordeinde place. Photo credit: Valerie Kuypers/Rijksoverheid/Wiki Commons

Prime Minister Mark Rutte has announced the cabinet’s imminent resignation.

This comes in the wake of the child benefit scandal. Nevermind that the country’s in the midst of a global pandemic. It’s also only two months before the elections.

The Dutch Tax Office wrongly accused more than 25,000 parents of benefit fraud. This had enormous financial consequences for innocent parents. That’s according to a report published by a Lower House committee in December.

Serious financial consequences

Parents had to repay vast sums of money. As a result, they often got into serious financial difficulties. The affair came to light in September 2018. It led to the resignation of the State Secretary for Finance, Menno Snel.

A Parliamentary Benefits Investigating Committee was established. It presented its findings last month. This was after extensive investigations. Rutte and other top officials also had to testify under oath.

On Thursday, Labour chairman, Lodewijk Asscher, resigned. He was the Dutch Minister of Social Affairs at the time of the scandal. Now, the four-party government coalition has also resigned.

Press conference

Prime Minister Mark Rutte held a press conference a short while ago. He said the Cabinet takes “full” responsibility for the violation of the rule of law. “The rule of law should protect citizens against an all-powerful government. That’s gone terribly wrong here,” he said in a statement.

The collapse of the cabinet doesn’t mean much of a change, according to political commentators. Rutte doesn’t intend to resign. According to media reports, he believes he can continue in his caretaker capacity to effectively lead the COVID-19 fight.

“To the Netherlands, I say, our fight against the coronavirus continues,” the Prime Minister said in his statement. “Our work in the coming months will continue to focus on COVID-19 and on dealing with its economic and social consequences.”

“And to the parents affected by the childcare allowance affair – we’ll continue to work towards timely compensation and the improvements needed for the future.”

There will be general elections in March.

Source: OmroepBrabant.nl and Rijksoverheid.nl

Translator: Melinda Walraven

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