A recent survey conducted by Hart van Nederland found that the majority of Dutchies are seriously wondering why Mark Rutte is still the country’s prime minister.
As an international not closely following Dutch politics, you may be curious what caused this dramatic unpopularity. Here are some of the reasons why Mark Rutte may no longer be the prime minister the Netherlands wants.
Childcare allowance scandal
In the childcare allowance scandal, which was hotly debated at the beginning of this year, the Dutch Tax Authority falsely accused thousands of parents of making fraudulent childcare allowance claims, making them repay the benefits they had received.
Ethnic profiling and institutional bias were involved, and some families had to repay tens of thousands of euros, ending up in financial hardship.
An investigation carried out by a parliamentary committee stated that Mark Rutte and his second and third cabinet were partly responsible for this injustice towards thousands of parents.
Following these events, in January 2021, Mark Rutte and his crumbling cabinet officially resigned, announcing they would finish the election term as a demissionary cabinet.
The Omtzigt scandal
However, the childcare allowance scandal wasn’t enough to deter people from voting for Rutte, and in March, his VVD (People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy) won the election again.
But the subsequent debates about the formation of the new government led to yet another scandal — and this time, Rutte’s reputation was seriously damaged.
It all started when the Minister of Interior Relations Kajsa Ollongern tested positive for coronavirus in the middle of debates with party leaders of the newly elected government.
As she was rushing home, she forgot to cover confidential notes which mentioned that the CDA parliament member Pieter Omtzigt — the very person who happened to have played a crucial role in exposing the childcare allowance scandal — could “get a position elsewhere.”
Rutte denied discussing Omtzigt’s position in the coalition negotiations, but more leaked notes proved the opposite. The prime minister was called a liar and lost the trust of not only many other party leaders, but also the people.
About 60% of the Dutch think that Rutte should have resigned from his position after that scandal, found the Hart van Nederland survey.
Handling the pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic is a challenge for governments across the world. However, some administrations have handled this challenge better than others — support for the Dutch approach has been declining over the past year.
A recent survey from the RIVM found that only 42% of the people surveyed have confidence in the way the Dutch government is handling the pandemic. In contrast, 17% had zero confidence in the government’s approach.
Denying the Dutch their favourite snack
If all the previous points weren’t enough, Mark Rutte’s latest statement was definitely the final straw. During the last press conference, the prime minister casually announced that even though bars and restaurants are opening, it’s not yet time for bitterballen.
While this may sound trivial in the light of the aforementioned scandals, some Dutchies experience this as an attack on the public and feel that the prime minister is no longer close to the ordinary people.
How closely do you follow Dutch politics? Do you think that Mark Rutte should leave the office? Tell us in the comments below!