A good two weeks after the parliamentary elections in the Netherlands, the election winner and incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte found himself in great distress. The conservative head of government had misinformed parliament and created the impression that he wanted to get rid of an uncomfortable critic, MP Pieter Omtzigt.
In a special session of parliament on Thursday evening, the 54-year-old was about his political future. Several opposition parties had asked the vote of confidence. It was unclear when it would be voted on. Should Rutte be withdrawn from trust, he would hardly be able to remain in office. He’s ruled the country for ten years.
Rutte’s credibility is damaged
The crisis was caused by a series of lies and cover-ups during the first talks about the formation of a new coalition. A large majority of MPs believe that Rutte’s credibility has been damaged. The right-wing populist Geert Wilders called for new elections.
At the center of the affair is the Christian Democratic MP and Rutte critic Omtzigt. It became clear from the conversation notes that the Prime Minister would like to have him in a new role elsewhere in the future. But Rutte had previously denied this and rejected the allegations.
The affair brought talks about the formation of a government to a virtual standstill. Now it is considered to hire a neutral mediator.
In the election on March 17, Rutte’s VVD was again the strongest force. It was expected that he would form a coalition with the Christian Democratic CDA and D66 as well as a fourth partner. The first talks were broken off last week after the confidential note became known.