Dutch Minister of Justice keeps job following wedding photos scandal
Following a debate in the Dutch House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) on Wednesday, September 2, the Dutch Minister of Justice, Ferdinand Grapperhaus, will keep his job after photos from his wedding led to scandal.
Grapperhaus celebrated his wedding with family and friends in Bloemendaal on Saturday, August 22. As Minister of Justice and Security, he has repeatedly emphasised the importance of sticking to the coronavirus measures and guidance throughout the ongoing crisis.
Therefore, it is unsurprising that he received significant criticism when photos emerged on August 27 of him and his guests not adhering to the 1,5-metre distance rule.
The photos show the wedding party gathering on the steps of his wedding venue, Bloemendaal town hall, with no regard for social distancing rules.
When the photos emerged, Grapperhaus expressed regret that the rules, which he had preached himself so regularly, were not being followed, and stated that he understood the criticism from the public and political opposition.
More photos emerge of the wedding
Sadly for Grapperhaus, the scandal was only just beginning. On September 1, more photos emerged of he himself failing to comply with the well-known coronavirus rules. In these damning images, Grapperhaus was seen shaking the hands of one of his guests and hugging his mother-in-law.
Dutch political commentator, Frits Wester, told RTLnieuws that these new photos had stripped Grapperhaus of any authority he had left and that there was only one thing left for him to do, and that was resign: “The man spoke to us in big words that we really have to obey the rules. Now that he does not do that himself, he can no longer hold others to account.”
Members of the political opposition also expressed frustration with Grapperhaus and his actions, with Lilian Marijnissen, leader of the Socialist Party, saying: "It would be good if Grapperhaus justified himself extensively about this, because he puts boas and agents in a very difficult position and undermines the support for his own policy."
Dutch parliament debate Grapperhaus' damaged credibility
The Dutch government announced that the parliament would debate the coronavirus measures, and Grapperhaus’ actions at his wedding, on September 2. By this point, the outrage among politicians was growing, and many were calling for Grapperhaus to resign.
However, the outcome of the debate was slightly more optimistic. Neither the vote of no confidence issued by Forum for Democracy or the motion of censure from the Labour Party received majority support in the House of Representatives.
Almost all parties agreed that Grapperhaus’ actions had dented his credibility, but most wanted to give him the opportunity to repair the damage. Prime Minister Rutte also defended the Justice Minister, confident in his ability to repair the damage to his reputation: “Authority is in more factors, it is also in the person. I am impressed with the authority with which the minister does his job.”
Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday evening, an emotional Grapperhaus yet again expressed regret for his actions, saying that in the run-up to the wedding he had done everything he could to ensure the event complied with the coronavirus rules, but that he let himself get carried away on the big night: “I misjudged it. I misjudged myself. It did not go well."
The aftermath of the wedding scandal
Grapperhaus’ actions have had consequences across the country. On August 31, the chairman of the Community Service Officers (BOAs) trade union stated that boas were administering fewer fines for violations of coronavirus rules because of the events of Grapperhaus’ wedding.
In his speech in Parliament on Wednesday, Grapperhaus also acknowledged how his actions had made the boas jobs’ incredible difficult, and promised to look into changing current procedure so that anyone issued a so-called coronavirus fine will not have that registered on their criminal record.
Grapperhaus emphasised that he did not want his actions to undermine the danger of the virus or the importance of government measures: “I want to show people that the policy is really important to get that dangerous virus out."