Netherlands: Why did the government resign?



A month after the publication of an explosive parliamentary investigation report into the tax administration accused of unfairly taxing nearly 26,000 parents of family allowance fraud, the Dutch government was forced to surrender. “The rule of law must protect its citizens from an almighty government. It failed in a horrible way ”, conceded Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte after submitting his resignation on Friday 15 January. “We all agree: when toif the system fails, only a common responsibility can be assumed ”, he added.

From 2013 to 2019, thousands of families were wrongfully accused of fraud and their benefits suspended. The tax authorities then asked them to retroactively return the sums collected. Many of these families are of immigrant background and precarious; the loss for some of them amounts to several thousand euros. Among the 26,000 people concerned, 11,000 would have been the subject of a “Ethnic profiling”. After the publication of the parliamentary inquiry, the government promised to pay each of the looted families 30,000 euros within four months.

Cascading resignations

It prevents. Many officials are accused of knowingly turning a blind eye for years. The leader of the Labor opposition and former Minister of Social Affairs from 2012 to 2017, Lodewijk Asscher, therefore opened the ball of resignations on Thursday. The rest of the government, including Mark Rutte, in power since 2010, engaged the next day under pressure from a vote of no confidence in Parliament announced next week.

Vaccine against Covid-19: the Dutch are finally rolling up their sleeves

Our fight against the coronavirus continues ”, however reaffirmed the Prime Minister. Two months before the legislative elections and while the country has experienced the most drastic health restrictions since the start of the epidemic, the resigning government should still ensure the interim on current affairs. So the management of the coronavirus.

Mark Rutte’s bright political future

“This resignation is more or less symbolic”, relativizes the political scientist Rinus van Schendelen. This is not the first time that a Dutch government has returned its apron to answer for its actions. In 2002, an official report criticizing The Hague policy in the 1995 massacre of Muslims in Srebrenica during the Bosnian War brought down the government of Prime Minister Wim Kok.

“Mark Rutte has a free hand to take care of his own partner”, continues the political scientist. The Conservative is running for a fourth term in the March 17 elections. Despite the scandal, his liberal-conservative political party, the Popular Party for Freedom and Democracy (VDD), seems to be on track to finish first in the poll. “Mark Rutte enjoys significant support from his supporters [notamment grâce à sa gestion de la crise sanitaire, NDLR], says Rinus van Schendelen. Polls showed voters did not want a real government crisis. “

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