Aid affair in the Netherlands: Rutte government about to collapse?


 The  Dutch government is in crisis. For years, the tax authorities had wrongly accused 20,000 parents of fraudulent child benefits. Will Prime Minister Rutte’s cabinet fall today?

By Ludger Kazmierczak, ARD-Studio Kleve / © The  Hague

© The  Dutch Cabinet meets every Friday in the venerable Trevez Hall in © The  Hague’s government district. And every Friday Prime Minister Mark Rutte appears before the press.

Today the journalists will listen with particular interest, because the country has been speculating for days about a possible resignation of the cabinet because of the so-called aid affair.

“Thorough, substantive conclusions”

Before the decisive meeting, the otherwise very informative Prime Minister was reluctant. “In my opinion, we will come to very thorough substantive conclusions on Friday. © The re is also the political question. We will then also discuss it. But to tell you now what I think about it, I shouldn’t do that.”

© The  question is whether the government takes responsibility for the failures of its financial authorities. Between 2013 and 2019, the tax authorities accused more than 20,000 families of having cheated when applying for childcare grants. Payments to parents were not only stopped afterwards – many of those affected had to repay large sums to the tax office, up to 20,000 euros or more.

Wrongly labeled parents as tax evaders

In December, a commission of inquiry came to the conclusion that the state had wrongly hunted innocent citizens.

As a result, State Secretary for Finance Alexandra van Huffelen announced reparation. “What we have decided is that all affected parents have the right to the same compensation. That is why we will pay all parents 30,000 euros within the next four months – as compensation for the suffering that was done to them.”

Whoever has suffered less damage can keep the rest of the money. Those who had to pay higher sums can apply for additional compensation payments.

Opposition insists on resignation

This obvious gesture should not be enough, says the opposition. Green leader Jesse Klaver therefore calls on the government to resign: “First and foremost, it has to do with the fact that more than 20,000 families have got into such big problems here because of the state that you can’t just stand up and say: Oh, smaller Mistake, thank you very much, we just keep going. Resigning also means pleading guilty. That is important to all victims. “

One of the people who has already drawn the consequences is the head of the social democratic Partij van de Arbeid, Lodewijk Asscher. He resigned yesterday as the top candidate of the PvdA because he was involved in the subsidy affair as the Minister of Social Affairs at the time.

He said in a video message on Facebook that he did not know anything about the tax authorities’ actions, but in order not to harm his party before the parliamentary elections on March 17th, he withdraws: “I have noticed that the discussion about my role of Party is not useful before the election. That is why I made my role as the top candidate available. “

Parliamentary election in two months

Since the Dutch will elect a new parliament in two months, a resignation of the government would probably not plunge the country into chaos, even in these difficult times of Corona. Until the election, Rutte and Co. could continue to govern provisionally. And the prime minister is also likely to look forward to election day. In all surveys, he and his conservative-liberal VVD are clearly ahead despite the aid affair.

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Aid affair Netherlands Rutte government collapse


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