THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) – The political future of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, caretaker Prime Minister, was in doubt on Friday after lawmakers filed a motion against him filed by two parties in his outgoing coalition.
The politically damaging move came at the end of a parliamentary marathon debate over the stalled process of forming a new government in last month’s election. Opposition lawmakers accused Rutte of lying and undermining public confidence in politicians. He had a hard time surviving the motion of no confidence.
It was the Conservative Party’s highest-profile mandate since the election, with a staggering fall from the Shah two weeks later, putting him in line to form his fourth governing coalition, possibly becoming the country’s longest-serving prime minister.
Rutte promised to work to restore confidence.
“I received the message, I accepted it wholeheartedly,” he said.
The political crisis surrounding Rutte, who has led the three coalitions for more than a decade, has come amid growing coronavirus infections despite months of blockades.
But he will find it even harder to shape the future of the ruling coalition after lawmakers accused him of trying to help a popular campaign lawmaker during coalition talks and undermining confidence in politicians.
“My confidence in Mr Rutte has been seriously undermined today,” Sigrid Kaag, leader of the centrist D66 party, told parliament early this morning. “The distance between him and me is greater. I’m sorry about that. “
D66 finished second in the election and is currently a member of Rutte’s coalition.
The rise began last week when preliminary talks on forming a new coalition were halted after one of the two leaders in charge of the talks praised the coronavirus and took a photo of the details of the talks.
There was a line in the text that said: “Position Omzigt, work elsewhere.” Lawmaker Peter Omzigt of the Christian Democrats has long been a thorn in the side of Rutte’s government with his tough questions, even though the Christian Democrats were also in his last coalition.
After taking the note, Rutte told reporters that he had not discussed Omzigt in the coalition talks. But he did so, according to civil servants’ notes, which were released ahead of Thursday’s debate.
Rutte said during the debate that he did not remember that part of the discussion; he answered journalists’ questions “with a clear conscience.”
“I am not lying. “I’m telling the truth,” Ruth said.
Rutte apologized to Omzigt and promised. “Where trust has been broken … I will work hard to restore it.”
Omzigt was not present at the debate. He is on leave, citing exhaustion.
Rutte’s problems were exacerbated when he acknowledged that he had been warned about the contents of the coalition talks, but declined to say who had warned him.
Kaag said he had seen a “pattern of forgetfulness, amnesia” on Rutte during his ten-year tenure.
“How can you, in the midst of the biggest crisis in the Netherlands, restore trust that has been damaged again?” Kag asked.
Lawmakers are now expected to appoint a new official coalition to resume talks, which are expected to take months.