Dutch authorities quits over little one advantages scandal

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s four-party coalition government was ousted from office by a long-running child benefit scandal. The Netherlands only had one janitorial administration as they are battling a second nationwide lockdown to control the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Rutte, leader of the center-right Liberal Party, met his coalition partners, the Christian Democrats D66 and the Christian Union, for a cabinet meeting that was described as “tense” on Friday morning. At lunchtime, all four had bowed to the inevitable and agreed to step back en bloc.

“Innocent people have been criminalized and their lives have been ruined,” the prime minister admitted as he emerged from the meeting. At the same time, Parliament was not properly informed. It was a unanimous decision: the money will stop here. “

Politically, the Rutte coalition had few options as the opposition prepared to cast a vote of no confidence next Tuesday to culminate a parliamentary debate that would have exposed the full horror of the scandal that had devastated around 20,000 families .

Between 2012 and 2017, these families were persecuted by the Dutch tax authorities, sentenced to repay child support payments, which in many cases were tried and in some cases forced to sell their houses and left practically penniless. You have been denied the right to appeal.

Pressure from the tax office, released by its ministers despite a public outcry, led to unemployment, bankruptcy and divorce, a parliamentary investigation later found.

Chris van Dam, chairman of this committee of inquiry, described the mismanagement by the tax authorities as “a mass process in which there was no room for nuance” and said that “the fundamental principles of the rule of law have been violated”.

The government’s critics on social media have been devastating, hailing their resignation as “the slow-motion collapse of a deaf, blind and very cruel bureaucracy”.

However, it will have been an irony that has not escaped Mr. Rutte when he met King Willem-Alexander to declare his resignation. Measured against the management of the coronavirus crisis, his government had the trust of around two-thirds of the public.

Prime Minister Rutte, who has been in office since 2010, and his ministers will remain as caretakers until election day, March 17th – with the exception of Economics Minister Eric Wiebes, who is leaving immediately because of his proximity to the scandal.

Although in normal times the unexpected collapse of a government would likely have brought the election date forward, it will stay as planned due to the coronavirus.

In this context, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge, who resigned as Christian Democratic leader before Christmas to remain responsible for the government’s pandemic campaign, will continue to play this role.

This is the second time in the modern history of the Netherlands that a cabinet has stepped down as a gesture of collective responsibility. The first was in 2002, when Wim Kok’s cabinet assumed partial responsibility for the Srebrenica massacre in 1995.

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