The Dutch government resigns after the childcare scandal


The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte arrives with his bicycle in front of the Council of Ministers in the Binnenhof in The Hague.

REMKO DE WAAL | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON – The entire Dutch government resigned on Friday after a scandal over the mismanagement of childcare funds that left thousands of families in financial trouble.

An investigation in December found that tax officials falsely accused thousands of working families of fraud and ordered them to repay childcare allowances between 2013 and 2019. The event has been labeled an “unprecedented injustice” by some Dutch lawmakers.

The revelation led to the resignation of opposition leader Lodewijk Asscher, who was responsible for social affairs in the previous government, on Thursday.

The government, led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who has been in power since 2017, decided on Friday to take responsibility and leave office together due to the scandal.

“With today’s decision, the cabinet wants to do justice to all those parents who have been wronged unprecedentedly,” the Prime Minister said in a statement.

At a press conference, he added that the government would continue to lead the Covid-19 emergency response with janitorial status.

Covid answer

The Netherlands should hold new parliamentary elections as early as March, but the government’s resignation comes at a difficult time. The country is under a national lockdown, according to Johns Hopkins University, and has had nearly 1 million Covid-19 infections and 12,875 deaths since the health emergency began. The Netherlands also need to prepare a plan on how to renew the post-pandemic economy.

Rutte had previously said that government resignation at this point would not help as the nation needs stability to deal with the pandemic, Politico reported. However, this is not the first time that a Dutch government has stepped down together to show a shared responsibility.

The families involved in this case brought charges against five politicians this week, including current Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra.

Given the proximity of the general election, ministers could remain in their roles until voters vote.