Two exemplary officials, the King and the Minister of Justice and Security, made a mistake this week: they did not keep a meter and a half corona distance and photos of it went all over the country, in the case of Willem-Alexander even the whole world. Both have expressed deep regret. The king was soon out of the news, Ferd Grapperhaus was not.
It was obvious that Mark Rutte would be strongly questioned at his weekly press conference about the two incidents, for which he bears political responsibility as prime minister. Strangely enough, the king was not mentioned, Grapperhaus all the more. Both events took place on the exact same day, Saturday, August 21. One in a restaurant on the Greek island of Milos, the other in a conference center in Bloemendaal. Both apologized via twitter. Why does one (WA) get away with it and the other (FG) has to go through the dust completely?
Some politicians rush to nail Grapperhaus to the cross. Former alderman Richard de Mos from The Hague tweets that the minister must resign. Apparently because he did the same himself when he came into the scope of the justice department on suspicion of criminal activities. Until now I have not heard about the king De Mos. But maybe that will come.
There is no question that what Grapperhaus has done is stupid, especially for a minister who calls violators of the corona rules asos, and on whose authority people are fined for that violation. Just like the king, Grapperhaus himself remained out of harm’s way. However, he and his wife do regret it each a gift of 390 euros (equal to the fine) transferred to the Red Cross. But the blunder has not been brushed away with that.
On the other hand, it is going much too far to declare a general pardon for everyone who has had a corona fine, as Henk Krol has suggested according to some media. Because the minister himself was not fined. Krol’s opportunism knows no bounds. Here speaks a politician who is in bad shape in the polls, may not return to the House of Representatives next year and – to prevent that – will use every opportunity to generate publicity.
Every motorist has ever passed a red light or committed another traffic offense that has not been fined because, for example, there was no speed camera. Should therefore everyone who was unlucky enough to be fined be remitted of the fine? That will not happen. The argument ‘he does, I don’t’ will not be heard by any police judge.
The core of the incident revolves around the question of whether the minister is still credible. In the first instance, that is up to the minister himself. Grapperhaus thinks he can continue as a minister. He says he has done his best to comply with the corona rules during his wedding. He himself has not violated a meter and a half; some of his guests did. He is supported in this view by Rutte and the rest of the cabinet.
Ultimately, however, it is up to the House of Representatives to determine whether the minister retains the confidence of the majority. No party has so far indicated that it will give up its confidence in Grapperhaus, not even Krol. His former party colleague Femke Merel van Kooten was planning to do so on Thursday, but has quickly come back.
Grapperhaus has gone deep in the dust. That seems to be enough politically.