Rutte survives no-confidence vote but censured by Dutch parliament

The Hague, Netherlands, Apr 2 (efe-epa).- The Netherlands’ caretaker prime minister Mark Rutte in the early hours of Friday survived a no-confidence vote in parliament brought by the far-right, although he was censured in another motion brought by progressive and Christian-Democratic sections of the House.

The successful “motion of disapproval” over the recent behavior of Rutte, who was accused of lying about raising the possibility of a role for a lawmaker and government critic in the new coalition, was backed by Democrats 66, the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), and the Christian Union, as well as the opposition. The three parties are allies in the current ruling coalition.

In addition to the censure, which did not directly target Rutte’s role as prime minister but his behavior, far-right leader Geert Wilders filed the no-confidence motion that, if passed, would have ended the liberal leader’s political career – both as PM and the head of his own People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy.

The motion of disapproval could have also led to Rutte’s resignation over the damage to his image done during the parliamentary debate, but the leader has announced that he won’t quit and instead seek to “regain trust.” He believes it possible for him to participate in negotiations to form a new coalition government.

The leader’s role in future negotiations is not clear, as the appointment of an independent “scout” to test the waters and study government formation possibilities was also approved.

Rutte claimed that he “did not lie” but had “remembered that wrong” when he denied having discussed a ministerial role for CDA’s Pieter Omtzigt, a lawmaker critical of Rutte’s government, during meetings to discuss coalition formation after the Mar. 17 election.

Notes carried by a staffer who was snapped by a photographer last week rushing out of parliament revealed that a role was being sought elsewhere for Omtzigt, which was a violation of the meetings’ protocols as they were in an early phase and seeking only to find out the leaders’ willingness to negotiate and which parties they wanted to support.

Omtzigt has been one of the harshest critics of the government, especially over a childcare scandal which involved tens of thousands of parents falsely accused of child benefit fraud, resulting in financial ruin for many of them.

The scandal led Rutte’s government to resign en-masse in mid-January, two months before the general election, although the bloc managed to hold on, leaving Rutte as caretaker leader. EFE-EPA


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