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Dutch government resigns over childcare subsidies

Dutch government resigns over childcare subsidies”

"Mistakes were made at every level of the state, with the result that bad injustice was done to thousands of parents", Rutte told The Guardian.

Political analyst Sophie van Leeuwen said the scandal was unlikely to hit Rutte in the election just two months away, given his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

With some parents racially profiled during the investigation, the affair underscored criticisms of the Dutch state under Rutte, including an addiction to frugality and a failure to tackle systemic racism.

Rutte called a cabinet meeting to ask his coalition partners if they still support his government, according to Dutch media.

If Rutte hands his resignation to King Willem-Alexander later on Friday, it would mark the first government collapse since 2012, when Rutte's first administration fell apart over disagreements on austerity measures.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is surrounded by the press as he arrives before the Council of Ministers at the Binnenhof, where the ministers are meeting to discuss the political consequences of the benefits affair in The Hague on January 15, 2021.

Rutte also noted that the cabinet will function in caretaker capacity till March when the parliamentary election will take place.

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"Innocent people have been criminalized, their lives have been destroyed and the House has been incorrectly and incompletely informed about this", he said. 'It is not credible that officials should continue as if nothing had happened'. The Dutch tax authority demanded a refund of tens of thousands of euros, leading to many families going bankrupt.

He has however said that if it resigned he could be authorised to lead a caretaker government to deal with coronavirus until elections - in which polls say his Freedom and Democracy Party would likely come first.

Victims also lodged a legal complaint Tuesday against three serving ministers and two former ministers including Asscher.

The Dutch government announced at least 30,000 euros ($36,000) in compensation for each parent who was wrongly accused but it has not been enough to silence the growing clamour over the scandal.

Between 2013 and 2019 - while Rutte was in power - tax authorities reclaimed parents' child benefits based on accusations of tax fraud that were later revealed to be false.

There will be few tears for his resignation in other European capitals, where Mr Rutte has made few friends with his constant pushing of Dutch-style austerity.

His pragmatic leadership has guided the Netherlands through the global financial crisis and the coronavirus pandemic, but he has also been accused of pandering to the right on issues including immigration.



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