Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte survives no-confidence vote
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte survived a no-confidence vote on Friday and indicated his intention to lead a new government, despite a self-made scandal that will complicate that effort.
The vote in the Dutch parliament was called over allegations that Rutte lied about trying to sideline a political rival. Rutte is now expected to continue efforts to form his fourth governing coalition after having decisively won a March 17 election.
Even though the no-confidence motion was narrowly dismissed by a margin of 78-72 votes, Rutte’s credibility took a serious blow. During the debate, he was accused of lying about outmaneuvering a lawmaker who helped unearth a childcare subsidy scandal. The issue eventually brought down the government in January, but Rutte’s party still finished first in the election last month with nearly 23% of the vote.
“I have 1.9 million voters, it would be strange to step aside two weeks after the election,” Rutte told RTL News on Friday, adding that it’s important to form a new cabinet. “I think we have to use the Easter holidays to let the dust settle, and after that continue step by step.”
Last week, Rutte denied that he discussed pushing Christian Democratic lawmaker Pieter Omtzigt, who brought the scandal to light, out of his job. However, it was revealed in notes made public Thursday that Rutte, a member of the Liberal party, did in fact bring up the idea moving Omtzigt into a less influential post.
Rutte will continue as caretaker prime minister, but the scandal complicates his ability to cobble together a new coalition. Sigrid Kaag, leader of the second-largest party, D66, said that “it’s not self-evident that Rutte will take the lead in the formation process,” adding that she would not continue if she were in Rutte’s position.
Rutte, 54, is one of the longest serving premiers in Dutch history. Leading one of the smallest countries in the European Union, Rutte punches above his weight and has a record of being a political survivor.
“I will continue as prime minister, but of course I will try to regain the lost trust,” Rutte told lawmakers after the vote. “A serious message has been sent to me and I take this seriously.”
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