Rutte faces criticism from Dutch parliament for coronavirus measures
Prime Minister Mark Rutte faced significant criticism from members of the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) for his approach to the ongoing coronavirus crisis in the Netherlands during a debate on Wednesday.
Dutch politicians are calling for quicker and more drastic action
A number of Dutch MPs questioned the lack of clarity in the government’s approach to managing the spread of the virus, and Rutte’s decision not to announce any new measures at the press conference on Tuesday, October 27. Despite Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge’s insistence that it is too early to determine whether the current measures have been effective, other politicians say they are “playing with fire.”
Parties including GroenLinks, the Labour Party (PvdA), ChristenUnie and Party for the Animals (PvdD) are concerned that, in choosing to wait, it is possible that by the time new measures are announced it might already be too late: “The facts say that we cannot wait, but that we must intervene," said PvdA leader Lodewijk Asscher.
Following a vote in which the majority voted against a structural increase in the salaries of those working in healthcare, Party for Freedom (PVV) leader, Geert Wilders, submitted a motion of no confidence against Rutte. The motion only had the support of the Socialist Party (SP), Forum for Democracy (FvD), and independent MPs Henk Krol, Femke Merel van Kooten, and Wybren van Haga - nowhere near a majority.
Rutte concerned about the economic and social consequences of lockdown
Rutte has stated that, while he is cautiously optimistic about the current infection rates in the Netherlands, he and De Jonge are waiting until the end of October to be sure if the semi-lockdown is levelling the contamination rates.
If rates remain high, Rutte has said stricter measures - even stricter than the so-called intelligent lockdown from the spring - are inevitable. He spoke of a “devil’s dilemma:” “[if] you want to extinguish the virus quickly [it] is only possible with measures that go further than the ones from March. This has enormous economic and social consequences that will last longer than just a few weeks.”
The semi-lockdown that is currently in place is now expected to remain in place until at least December. The Dutch government is expected to announce the next steps - and any additional measures - on Tuesday, November 3.