Netherlands: Prime Minister Mark Rutte survives a vote of confidence – and receives disapproval

Mark Rutte has ruled the Netherlands as prime minister for ten years and has acquired the reputation of “Teflon premier” – because all affairs slip away from him. Now Rutte has just survived a vote of confidence in parliament.

After a long and turbulent debate over controversial statements by Rutte in the coalition talks, the opposition ultimately lacked a majority for a vote of no confidence in The Hague on Friday night.

The parliament, however, expressed its deep disapproval for the behavior of the head of government with a large majority. Its credibility has been seriously damaged. The right-wing populist Geert Wilders had already called for new elections in advance.

A good two weeks after the parliamentary election won, Rutte was in considerable distress. He had misinformed parliament and created the impression that he wanted to get rid of an uncomfortable critic, the MP Pieter Omtzigt from the Christian Democratic party CDA. This had helped to uncover a scandal over child benefits, which led to Rutte’s resignation in January. His government has been in office since then.

Rutte wants to regain Parliament’s confidence

After a session that lasted more than 13 hours, the 54-year-old asked parliament and MP Omtzigt for forgiveness. “Where trust has been violated, I’ll work hard to restore it,” said Rutte. He announced that he wanted to remain Prime Minister.

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. The affair brought negotiations to form a government to a virtual standstill.

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