The whole of the Dutch cabinet has stepped down over a scandal in which tax officials wrongly accused thousands of parents of fraud, plunging many into debt by ordering them to repay childcare allowances.
Prime minister Mark Rutte has opposed dissolving the coalition, arguing Netherlands needed stability amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The four ruling parties in Rutte’s coalition had been deeply divided in response to a report which revealed the tax authority had been “wrongly hunting down thousands of families”, with the alliance choosing to end their cooperation rather than risk losing a vote of no-confidence next week.
It is likely the government would still need to stay on in a caretaker capacity until a new coalition was formed – with elections due in March – but it will prevent the politicians from making big policy changes until then.
It marks the first government collapse since 2012 when Rutte’s first administration fell apart over disagreements on austerity measures.