THE HAGUE - A large majority of people in the Netherlands cannot understand why Mark Rutte is still the country’s Prime Minister, Hart van Nederland reported. The broadcaster conducted a survey of over three thousand people, and found that 60 percent think he should have left office after the Cabinet formation scandal at the beginning of April.
On April 1, Rutte narrowly won a no-confidence vote following a parliamentary debate on leaked notes from the Cabinet formation process that suggested he had conversations with Cabinet formation scouts about popular CDA MP Pieter Omtzigt. He then said he did not remember having that conversation, which few parliamentarians believed as more notes surfaced about the discussions. Rutte remained the Prime Minister but his image was damaged; a majority in Parliament voted in favor of censuring him for misleading them. Though he and his VVD party were the clear winners in the recent elections, the scandal has undoubtedly made it more difficult for him to lead a fourth cabinet.
On the day of the debate, Hart van Nederland conducted the survey in which a large majority of 62% polled participants thought that Rutte should have resigned. In the new research which was conducted last week, that number dropped slightly to 60 percent. At the same time, 34 percent of the respondents did not believe Rutte should immediately resign his roles as prime minister and leader of the VVD.
Rutte's options to lead a new cabinet as prime minister rapidly dried up, after the entire opposition had given up confidence in him and one of the coalition parties (ChristenUnie) also indicated they did not want to join Rutte in a new cabinet.
The most important question in the new cabinet formation process remains which parties will still want to work with Rutte. In that respect, all eyes are on Sigrid Kaag, the leader of the second party D66, and Wopke Hoekstra (CDA), who did not exclude the possibility of joining Rutte in the new Cabinet. Kaag is currently the Minister of Foreign Trade and Development, while Hoekstra is the Minister of Finance.
The Cabinet formation process continues on Wednesday when the leaders of the eight largest parties in Parliament meet with the former Labour politician now leading formation discussions, Tjeenk Willink. He met with the leaders of the nine smallest parties on Tuesday.