Friday, July 12, 2024
 
 

Dutch government could collapse over child benefits scandal

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Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his cabinet will decide on Friday whether to resign over his government’s mismanagement of childcare benefits, after a parliamentary inquiry found last month that it had led thousands of families to financial hardship. 

A Cabinet meeting has kickstarted at 10am at the Binnenhof in The Hague, to discuss the political consequences of the benefits affair, which could lead to the collapse of the first Dutch government since 2012. 

Pressure on Rutte’s four-party coalition to quit mounted on Thursday, after the leader of the opposition Labour party (PvdA), Lodewijk Asscher resigned. While the centre-left party is not a member of Rutte’s ruling coalition, it was a member of his previous government, during which, the scandal occurred. 

Asscher, who was serving as the Minister of Social Affairs at that time has denied knowledge of the Dutch Tax Authorities’ practices, which falsely accused thousands of parents of fraud and ordered them to repay childcare benefits.

“Yes, I was Minister of Social Affairs during the previous large crisis that faced our country. No, I did not know that the Tax Authority started an unjust hunt of thousands of families,” Asscher said in a video message published on Twitter on Thursday. 

The crisis in the Netherlands comes just two months before a planned general election, and should Rutte’s cabinet step down, it could stay in charge until March’s poll as caretakers.

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