The Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte has tendered the resignation of his government following a scandal affecting his administration.
26,000 parents had been wrongly accused of fraud in family allowances.
The government will remain in place to manage ongoing business until March.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced his resignation and that of his government on Friday.
He is mired in a tax administration scandal: thousands of families have been wrongly accused of fraud in family allowances, before being forced to reimburse them, which has plunged some of them into serious problems financial.
Some have also been subjected to ethnic profiling.
He will settle pending cases until March
"The rule of law must protect its citizens from an almighty government. It has failed in a horrible way," Mark Rutte said at a press conference.
“Mistakes have been made resulting in a great injustice done to thousands of parents,” he added.
A handful of people booed him as he cycled out of government headquarters after announcing his resignation.
According to recent polls, his liberal-conservative party (VVD) could yet be the first party again after the legislative elections of March 17, public opinion still largely supporting its management of the health crisis.
Mark Rutte has indicated that he will settle ongoing affairs until the March elections, in order to avoid disrupting the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic.
"Our fight against the coronavirus continues", assured Mark Rutte, adding that his resigning government "would do what is necessary in the interest of the country".
Pressure increased this week
The 53-year-old politician, who led his third coalition government since coming to power in 2010, was facing increasing pressure, with his cabinet risking a possible vote of no confidence in parliament next week.
A damning parliamentary inquiry report released in December found that officials ended benefits for thousands of families wrongly accused of fraud between 2013 and 2019, before forcing them to retroactively return benefits received over several years, or in some cases tens of thousands of euros.
The pressure on the four ruling center and right parties intensified on Thursday with the resignation of the leader of the opposition Dutch Labor Party (PvdA), Lodewijk Asscher, Minister of Social Affairs from 2012 to 2017, under the previous one. government coalition of Mark Rutte.
The latter, who previously announced that he would run for a fourth term, was initially opposed to the resignation of his coalition, saying that the country needs a decision-making government to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
Far-right MP Geert Wilders, known for his anti-Islam positions, said it was "right" that the government resigned.
The leader of the Green Left party, Jesse Klaver, another prominent voice who called on Mark Rutte to resign, said the decision could be a "new beginning, a turning point" for the Netherlands.
A repair of 30,000 euros
According to Dutch media estimates, this child benefit scandal has affected around 26,000 parents.
It was also revealed that tax officials had "ethnically profiled" some 11,000 people on the basis of their dual nationality, including some of those affected by the family allowance case.
In December, the Dutch government announced it wanted to pay at least 30,000 euros to each parent concerned over the next four months, but that was not enough to deflate the scandal.
Victims lawyer Vasco Groeneveld filed a complaint on Tuesday against three ministers in office and two former ministers, including Mr. Asscher.