THE DUTCH cabinet will decide on Friday whether to collapse their coalition government in the wake of a massive child benefits scandal.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said he would like to keep the government in place to provide stability during the coronavirus pandemic but did not rule out that the coalition he leads could collapse following Friday’s decision.
The scandal emerged when it was discovered that tax officials in the Netherlands had falsely accused thousands of families of welfare fraud, forcing many of them into debt as they were ordered to repay child benefits to the state.
The leader of the opposition Labour party, Lodewijk Asscher, resigned on Thursday (January 14th) in the wake of the scandal as he was the Netherlands’ Minister for Tax in the previous government.
Despite the government offering 30,000 euro in compensation to all affected families, legal action has been launched against ministers from three of the parties in Rutte’s current coalition for their role in the scandal. Lawyers for the families accuse the cabinet members of criminal negligence through a failure of adequate governance, discrimination, and violating children’s rights.
Whether or not the government will collapse largely depends on Rutte’s coalition partners, with at least one leader – Sigrid Kaag of the centre-left D66 party – warning this week that serious political consequences of the scandal are inevitable.
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