Today the Dutch experiment with the Danish form of government (a minority cabinet with support; in this case a cabinet of VVD and CDA with Wilders’ PVV in support) has ended as the PVV withdrew support. The cabinet now has no majority in Second Chamber and will in all likelihood resign, with elections being planned for (probably September). Thus ends the Danish cabinet.
I’ll have more to say at a later stage (tomorrow, probably, time permitting, Deo volente, etc.), but here’s a dry summation of DutchNews headlines:
Austerity talks between the minority coalition and anti-immigration PVV collapsed on Saturday afternoon, when PVV leader Geert Wilders walked out. New elections are now on the cards, prime minister Mark Rutte told reporters.
In a news conference shortly after Wilders left the negotiations, both prime minister Mark Rutte and CDA leader blamed the collapse on the PVV leader.
‘At the last moment, the PVV was shocked about the impact of the consequences of previously made agreements,’ Rutte said. (…)
In a short statement Wilders said he could not accept that pensioners would have to pay for ‘useless’ demands from Brussels. Agreeing with the measures is ‘not in the interest of our PVV voters,’ he said.
The main points of the agreement:
- The state pension age to go up to 66 in 2015, not 2020 as planned
- An introduction of a €9 fee for every medical prescription
- An increase in value-added tax: the low rate to rise from 6% to 7%, the high rate from 19% to 21%
- A €750m cut on the €4.6bn development aid budget
- No tax relief on interest-only mortgages
- A cut of €75m on spending on public broadcasters
- No change in unemployment benefit or redundancy law
- An across-the-board salary and benefit freeze, apart from state pensions and incapacity benefit
- An end to student grants
- Parental contribution for school books to be brought back
- An end to the tax break on employee travel costs
Economists say the collapse of talks aimed at getting the Dutch economy back on track will impact on the financial markets and could lead to the Netherlands losing its Triple A status, news agency ANP reports.
It is now likely that Rutte will visit queen Beatrix and tender his resignation on Monday. However, there will not be an election before the summer. In Dutch electoral law, there must be some 80 days between the collapse of a government and new elections. Given the summer holidays, it is unlikely the election will be held before September. (…)
Overshadowing the domestic situation is Brussels. A spokeswoman for president of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso said Brussels is following developments in the Netherlands closely.
News agency AP said in its coverage of the crisis that the election will be ‘a referendum on the Netherlands’ relationship with Europe and its ailing single currency’.
The latter point is one worth remembering as we head for September and new elections.