Dutch premier Mark Rutte wins a no-confidence vote

Photo: EPA Mark Rutte

The Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte’s chances of forming a new cabinet were seriously shaken as members of local parliament succeeded in passing a formal motion of disapproval, saying he had not told the truth about remarks made while cabinet formation talks were under way, Reuters reported. Still those MPs failed to pass a no-confidence vote. If the motion was successful Rutte would had to submit his resignation.

“Parliament has given me a serious message and I will try my very best to win back confidence”, Rutte told reporters after the debate. It was not clear when and in what form government formation talks would resume. “This was a very serious matter, for which I have offered my apologies,” Rutte said. The “motion of disapproval” specified that Rutte had “not spoken the truth”.

Rutte was the clear winner of 17 March parliamentary elections that were seen as a referendum on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic crisis. Sigrid Kaag, the leader of the second largest party in parliament, said she was not sure whether she would now be willing to join a new government with Rutte. “If I were him, I would not continue”, she said when asked about Rutte’s position. The crisis spiked on Thursday after Rutte acknowledged having privately discussed what job should go to a prominent member of parliament who had been critical of his previous Cabinet. Rutte had previously said he did not do so.

“The only thing I can do here is say from the bottom of my heart, my toes, say what happened, what went well, what went wrong, that I never lied,” Rutte said. Rutte, a 54-year-old conservative who has been in office for more than 10 years, pointed to his record and said he hoped to continue leading the country.

Talks on forming a new government were abruptly put on hold on 25 March when one of the chief negotiators unwittingly revealed a sensitive document to a news photographer as she rushed out of parliament after learning that she had tested positive for Covid-19.

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