Prime Minister Rutte would, if he had to make the choice now, continue as party leader of the VVD and as prime minister. That’s what he said on the talk show On 1, which took a detailed look at the major issues of recent times.
“These were tough months,” Rutte said of the corona crisis. He said he found his own function and role “honorable” and “special”, but not yet fully committed. “I take the time for that. It is still a decision for another five years of my life. You may think about that a little longer than a wagging labrador.” If he had to choose now, “I would do it,” he added.
Rutte said earlier that he only makes a final decision about his future after the summer.
The prime minister spoke to interviewers Jeroen Pauw and Fidan Ekiz for an hour about the difficult months of the corona crisis. He acknowledged that the cabinet sometimes took decisions in which doubts struck. Such as when closing all cafes or restaurants, or the measures for nursing homes. According to Rutte, there was always discussion about the balance between measures to protect health and relaxation to help the economy.
Rutte had experienced the first relaxation of the corona measures as “terrifying”, he said. “I was also looking at the statues every two or three hours.”
Rutte joined On 1 also commented on the statement by intensivist Diederik Gommers, who said in the Volkskrant on Saturday that he felt pressured by an official from the Ministry of Health. “We have to talk about that,” said Rutte. “That is the last thing I want.”
This was the situation in the intensive care units at the end of March. They quickly filled up with corona patients and there was great pressure to create more beds. According to Gommers, the ministry wanted a firm commitment from him about this. Health Minister De Jonge said on Sunday at Nieuwsuur that there was no pressure; Rutte also says that he experienced the situation differently.
Special private circumstances
The conversation also focused on the death of Rutte’s mother, mid-May. The prime minister kept that silent for almost two weeks because he also had to lead the country, he said. “You can’t do this and get completely off track (…) But what had happened in my private life made it complicated for me.”
He had shared the sad event with several confidants, including Ministers Grapperhaus and De Jonge. That would have done him good, Rutte said.
No general amnesty
Rutte said he also did not feel in favor of a “general pardon” for people who were fined for not complying with the corona regulations. In recent months, more than 15,000 fines have been issued to Dutch people who, for example, kept too little distance or were gathered with too many people. Rutte says it was crucial that people adhere to those measures.
Even now, the Prime Minister considers it very important that people do this, because the virus can “win up again”. The Cabinet therefore continues to call on people to adhere to the corona rules, even when they go on vacation.
And although the cabinet will continue to think in the summer about issues such as possible new support measures after 1 October, when the current package expires, Rutte hopes to “switch off one or two weeks” in the near future. Then he will think again “fundamentally” about his future, he said.