One of the most difficult and most important challenges for leaders is to know when their time is up. Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is failing that challenge. He has been serving as a prime minister since 2010, presiding over three cabinets but now his time is up.
The Netherlands, as many other European countries, is in a difficult situation with a decreasing but still large number of Covid-infections and an economy in recession. On top of that it has a caretaker cabinet. The full cabinet resigned earlier this year to take responsibility for a scandal concerning child allowances in which the government abandoned its citizens.
Distrust in government has skyrocketed, partly as a result of this scandal but also because of some mistakes in how the government handled Covid. Prime minister Rutte has become a symbol of this distrust, amongst others because he has a selective memory and he has been actively silencing critical MPs. Rutte acknowledges the need for a new political culture and stresses that he is the right person to lead this cultural transition.
I beg to differ. The question is no longer if Mark Rutte is or isn’t a good prime minister but if he is still the right man at the right time. Different times need different leaders: horses for courses. The era of Mark Rutte is over. He should muster the courage to step down for the sake of the country.