PM Rutte survives debate on deleted texts
Despite a heated debate in the Tweede Kamer on the Prime Minister's habit of deleting his text messages, Mark Rutte survived a motion of no confidence against him. PVV leader Geert Wilders and the Van Haga group submitted the motion.
Of the parties the coalition most often looks to for supporting Cabinet plans in the Senate, only JA21 supported the motion. SP, DENK, PvdD, BBB, and FvD also voted in favor. Independent MP Pieter Omtzigt spoke of a "shameful display" but would wait for several investigations before judgment.
During the debate, GroenLinks was very critical of Rutte's attitude. Leader Jesse Klaver clashed with Rutte about providing figures on the number of messages the Prime Minister receives and sends on his phone. Rutte did not want to share that with the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch parliament, to the frustration of GroenLinks. But just before the debate started, the Prime Minster reneged on his earlier position and promised to provide the information.
The promise did not wholly remove the chill between Klaver and Rutte but did seem to contribute to the fact that GroenLinks did not support the motion of no confidence in the end. "The debate is not over yet. More information has been promised next week," and there will be another inspectorate investigation, Klaver said. "We are waiting for that before making a final judgment and are therefore voting against the no-confidence motion for now."
Another motion submitted in the parliamentary debate stated that the Prime Minister could only delete texts after an independent official okays it. GroenLinks, the PvdA, DENK, and Volt submitted the motion. Rutte argued that the motion isn't legal under constitutional law and advised against it. According to Rutte, asking permission from an official does not suit ministerial responsibility.
Volt wants the telephones of Ministers read weekly for chat traffic and all messages archived from now on, following the Norwegian example. Rutte advised against that too. He wants the party to wait for a letter from the Cabinet on how it plans to deal with message traffic in the future. Rutte wants to see whether the current guideline for Ministers can be tightened up quickly and said he would include the "thought from the motion," such as introducing the four-eyes principle.
Rutte is also against quickly ratifying the Tromsø treaty, as Volt also wants to arrange by motion. That treaty includes the agreement that all government documents must be made public in principle unless it violates other rights or laws. This concerns all information received or sent by the government in any way whatsoever. The Prime Minister also advised against this motion.
The Tweede Kamer will vote on the motions next week.
Reporting by ANP