The Rutte III cabinet collapsed due to the childcare allowance scandal. Prime Minister Mark Rutte will offer his cabinet’s resignation to King Willem-Alexander, it was announced on Friday after the Council of Ministers met for 2.5 hours. The Prime Minister will soon give a press conference.
In the childcare allowance affair, thousands of parents ended up in serious financial problems after the Tax Authority wrongly labeled them fraudsters and ordered them to repay their childcare allowance. In some cases, this involved tens of thousands of euros. The Tax Authority used ethnic profiling in its witch hunt, with dual-nationality being one of the criteria with which potential fraudsters were selected.
In December, a parliamentary committee of inquiry presented a report stating that the involved parents faced unprecedented amounts of injustice. And that cabinets, parliaments, and even the judiciary all played a role in the suffering caused to tens of thousands of innocent parents. The committee said that Prime Minister Mark Rutte and members of the government in both the current Rutte III and previous Rutte II cabinets are all partly responsible for the brutal fraud approach that led to this scandal.
Lodewijk Asscher, who was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Affairs and Employment in the Rutte II cabinet, announced on Thursday that he was stepping down as leader of the PvdA and would not be running in the upcoming parliamentary election in March. He said he did not want discussions about his role in this scandal to stand in the way of the PvdA getting a good election result.
By announcing its resignation, the Rutte III cabinet now officially has “caretaker” status. This means the cabinet remains in office until a new one is chosen, because someone has to run the country. The cabinet will still deal with ongoing matters – which in this case here means mainly the coronavirus pandemic – but controversial or sensitive subjects will be left to the next cabinet. What is controversial or sensitive will be determined by Parliament.
The caretaker is a status the Dutch political system is used to dealing with, as all cabinets are also “outgoing” between parliamentary elections and the formation of a new government. The Netherlands will be holding parliamentary elections on March 17, with some polling stations opening earlier this year to allow for more social distancing during the pandemic.
The Daily Herald