Mark Rutte has survived a no-confidence vote after being caught up in a scandal that threatened to convey an abrupt finish to his 11 years as prime minister of the Netherlands.
The veteran chief, whose right-leaning liberal Freedom occasion (VVD) comfortably received elections final month, narrowly withstood a problem from opposition leaders and former coalition allies, who had known as his resignation forward of the no-confidence vote.
Rutte has been on the centre of a scandal over a attainable proposal to nominate a outstanding authorities critic as a minister within the new coalition authorities.
Final week, Rutte denied ever elevating the query with officers answerable for coalition negotiations of whether or not conservative MP Pieter Omtzigt ought to serve within the subsequent cupboard. It later emerged that Rutte had made the suggestion after confidential coalition paperwork have been made public.
In a parliamentary debate on Thursday, the prime minister mentioned he had “forgotten” the dialog had taken place. “I spoke to the press to the perfect of my information and conscience. I remembered it wrongly and I deeply remorse it,” mentioned Rutte.
The episode sparked sustained criticism of the 54-year-old premier, who has ridden out quite a few crises, incomes the nickname “Teflon Mark”.
Sigrid Kaag, chief of the liberal D66 and a coalition associate in Rutte’s final authorities, mentioned the prime minister’s declare of forgetfulness was “not good” sufficient and that the 2 events ought to “half methods”.
“There was a sample of forgetfulness in recent times,” she mentioned.
Rutte’s VVD emerged as clear victors in elections dominated by Covid-19 in mid-March. However the means of forming a coalition has been chaotic. Kajsa Ollongren, one of many MPs appointed as a “scout” to steer coalition talks, examined constructive for Covid-19, resulting in criticism concerning the negotiations being held in individual and with attendees not carrying masks.
The controversy over Omtzigt started when a photographer captured Ollongren holding a negotiating doc that talked about the conservative MP’s identify as a degree for dialogue in coalition talks.
Omtzigt, a member of the centre-right Christian Democrats, was a thorn within the facet of the earlier Rutte-led authorities. He was instrumental in exposing a tax scandal wherein authorities officers falsely accused hundreds of fogeys of defrauding the state, an affair over which the cupboard was compelled to resign in January.
That episode didn’t, nonetheless, end in Rutte relinquishing his job, and he stayed on as caretaker prime minister.
The tax scandal additionally did not dent his reputation amongst voters within the March election, with the VVD gaining three seats and retaining its place as the most important occasion within the decrease home of parliament.
The vote of no confidence had offered Rutte along with his hardest check, as virtually the entire opposition events had lined up in opposition to him.
Geert Wilders, chief of the far-right PVV, accused Rutte of being a “born liar” within the parliamentary debate. Greens chief Jesse Klaver mentioned he blamed the prime minister for overlaying up the episode.
Observe Mehreen Khan on Twitter: @mehreenkhn