Entire Dutch government resigns after huge child benefit scandal

Mark RuttePhoto: John Thys, Pool Photo via AP / File
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The government of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is resigning as a result of the child benefit scandal that was revealed this week.

“It is a very tough, but fair report,” Rutte said about the revelations that forced the government to resign.

For several years, the tax authorities have “violated basic principles of the rule of law,” and families have been investigated for child benefit fraud “for something as simple as an administrative error, without malicious intent,” The Guardian wrote about the report that Rutte referred to. 

Forms that have been filled out incorrectly or missing signatures are such examples of errors. 

“It has ended very badly. Innocent people have been criminalized, and their lives have been ruined. In addition, the National Assembly has received incorrect and incomplete information,” Rutte said at a press conference on Friday afternoon. 

“Everyone must take responsibility”

“The entire government agrees that the system has failed and that we must all take responsibility. Therefore, I have asked the king for the resignation of the entire government,” Rutte said.

The next elections are in March, and it is expected that Rutte’s party will win, and that he will thus be the first choice to form a new government.

Former Minister of Social Affairs Lodewijk Asscher has resigned as leader of the Labor Party after the revelations. 

He denies that he knew the authorities “wrongly went after thousands of families” but admitted that the system has failed and “made the government the enemy of the people.”

Run-up to the elections

The scandal comes just over two months before the election in the Netherlands, and ahead of Friday’s decision, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that he did not want to dissolve the current coalition government. 

He believes the country needs stability during the corona pandemic. 

The parties in the outgoing coalition say they still stand together on the corona measures in the country, which thus still have the support of a majority in the National Assembly.

According to a recent poll, only 8% of people in the Netherlands thought that the entire government should resign.

Formal complaints against ministers

Thousands of families have been wrongfully accused of social security fraud between 2013 and 2019, perhaps even earlier, Dutch media warn. 

A lawyer has filed a formal complaint on behalf of the victims against three current ministers and two former ministers, including Asscher.

The investigation report shows that thousands of families have been deprived of support after being accused of child benefit fraud. 

Many have also been forced to pay back hundreds of thousands of kroner, which has created financial problems. 

According to Dutch media, around 26,000 people have been affected by the scandal.

The tax authorities are also said to have exposed 11,000 people to ethnic profiling because they had dual citizenship. This includes some of those exposed to false accusations of tax fraud.

Compensation

The government has announced that parents who are wrongfully accused in the case will receive at least EUR 30,000 in compensation, but that has not been enough to calm the protests.

Until Friday, Rutte led his third coalition government since 2010. 

He won the election in 2017 and is therefore well placed to secure a fourth term on March 17. 

He continues to receive broad support for dealing with the corona crisis.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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1 Comment on "Entire Dutch government resigns after huge child benefit scandal"

  1. Dr. Hamdy A Khalil | 16. January 2021 at 15:59 | Reply

    Democracy and Accountability at their best.
    Congratulations to the Dutch Prime Minister and the Dutch People.

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