Scandal, riots and the Dutch election

Voting begins today in a Dutch general election that follows a major government scandal and strict lockdown conditions that sparked serious disorder.

The Guardian’s Europe correspondent, Jon Henley, tells Anushka Asthana that the prime minister, Mark Rutte’s government resigned en masse in January after admitting to failing tens of thousands of citizens who it had wrongly accused of cheating the child benefits system. A parliamentary report described how people from ethnic minorities were particularly singled out and issued with demands to repay tens of thousands of euros.

But despite this scandal and a strict second lockdown, pre-election polls show little appetite among voters for a radical change of government. Rutte, who stayed on in a caretaker capacity following the cabinet’s resignation, is expected to remain in office in any new coalition.

COVID-19 Ministerial Committee meeting, The Hague, Netherlands - 08 Mar 2021<br>Mandatory Credit: Photo by Hollandse Hoogte/REX/Shutterstock (11791595ay)
Outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte explains the corona measures.
COVID-19 Ministerial Committee meeting, The Hague, Netherlands - 08 Mar 2021

Photograph: Hollandse Hoogte/REX/Shutterstock

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