Dutch Government Falls in Austerity Crisis

PM Mark Rutte gives bad news to the queen
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 23, 2012 8:38 AM CDT
Updated Apr 23, 2012 3:44 PM CDT
Dutch Government Close to Collapse as Cuts Talks Fail
This 2010 file photo shows PM Mark Rutte, left, Jan Peter Balkenende, former PM and head of the Christian Democratic Alliance, center, and Geert Wilders, leader of the populist Freedom Party, right.   (Peter Dejong)

The Dutch government, one of the most vocal critics of European countries failing to rein in their budgets, quit today after failing to agree on a plan to bring its own deficit in line with EU rules. Prime Minister Mark Rutte tendered the resignation of his entire Cabinet to Queen Beatrix, effective immediately, after Rutte informed her talks on a new austerity package collapsed over the weekend. Rutte is to debate with parliament tomorrow on whether and how his caretaker government can still improve the budget, and when to schedule new elections. No date was immediately announced, but opposition lawmakers called for a vote in late June.

Opposition Labor Party leader Diederik Samsom accused Rutte of "dropping the ball at the worst possible moment" for the Dutch economy and demanded elections as soon as possible. The Dutch government collapse came a day after the first round election victory of France's socialist candidate Francois Hollande, who has said he wants to focus less on austerity and more on economic growth. The two developments call into question whether budget-cutting policies that are causing trauma in countries such as Greece, Spain, and Portugal can be enforced even in "core" European countries such as France—or in the Netherlands, one of the few along with Germany to maintain an AAA credit rating. (More Netherlands stories.)

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