Grapperhaus stays on, coronaboetes may no longer have a criminal record

Ferdinand Grapperhaus (CDA) may continue to call himself Minister of Justice. A motion of no-confidence from the PVV and a motion of censure from the PvdA didn’t get a majority in the House of Representatives. The motion of censure was supported by the entire opposition except the SGP. The motions were filed because of the state of affairs at and after the Grapperhaus wedding, where wedding guests did not keep enough distance.

Almost all parties agree that Grapperhaus’ credibility has suffered a dent, but a majority of them give the minister a chance to repair that dent. However, the minister has had to promise that he will check whether people who receive a coronation fine do not see this in a criminal record.

Pretty soon after he spoke in the Chamber on Wednesday night, Grapperhaus expressed regret, as he did last week. The minister said that in the preparation of his wedding everything had been done to comply with the rules, but on the evening of the wedding he had got carried away. “I misjudged it. I misjudged myself. It didn’t go well,” said Grapperhaus, who then became visibly emotional and broke.

Here’s how that went:

Grapperhaus acknowledges that his confidence has been dented and that he will have to work on that. He understands that the situation makes it difficult for boas to do their job and hand out fines. “I am and will therefore continue to talk to them.”

The Cabinet will – at the insistence of the House of Representatives – investigate whether a coronation fine no longer automatically enters a criminal record. SP leader Marijnissen considers it “disproportionate” if offenders may not receive a Certificate of Good Behaviour (Verklaring Omtrent Gedrag, VOG) when they find a new job.

But offenders who spit in other people’s faces, are aggressive or deliberately ignore coronavirus rules do not have to count on the note disappearing from the criminal record, the Cabinet stresses.

Fierce criticism

Grapperhaus was trusted by a majority in the House, but not before both opposition and coalition parties had voiced fierce criticism. According to his own party, the CDA, he should have set a good example. VVD party chairman Dijkhoff spoke of a major “impact” on “authority and credibility”. D66-leader Jetten welcomed the indignation in society, now that the minister “celebrated his wedding, where many others were forced to postpone it”.

For the opposition parties, except the SGP, Grapperhaus’ answers were unconvincing.

PVV leader Wilders said Grapperhaus may think he still has authority, “but you don’t have it. Think about that. The Netherlands cannot afford a Minister of Justice who has lost confidence,” Wilders said.

Forum for Democracy Leader Baudet sees the course of events as proof that the cabinet no longer supports the strict coronamate rules itself. “The virus is not as life-threatening as we thought.” Baudet thinks Grapperhaus actually agrees with him. “Otherwise, he would never have hired and endangered his very elderly mother-in-law.”

Grapperhaus contradicts that he thinks so. “Most people stick to measures. My failing must not be allowed to interfere with the importance of those measures.” I want to show people that the policy is really important to get that life-threatening virus underneath.”

Credibility Cabinet

PvdA leader Asscher, the author of the motion, believes that the entire cabinet has a credibility problem. According to him, the question is how the Cabinet is going to restore that trust. “The authority of this cabinet has been compromised. It’s tough on society, but soft on itself. That stings.”

Prime Minister Rutte understands if there are people who look at the photos of Minister Grapperhaus’ wedding and don’t yet feel that the cabinet and the minister are credible again. But Rutte is convinced that Grapperhaus can restore confidence. “Authority is in more factors, it’s in the person. I’m impressed with the authority with which the minister does his job.”

Read the live blog about the debate back here

Watch the various videos of the debate here.