Dutch government ‘close to falling’

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Dutch media are reporting that the government talks on extra cutbacks to reduce the 2013 budget deficit to within European Union limits are close to failure. The talks were suspended earlier on Wednesday and are due to resume on Thursday at 10:00.

The minority coalition partners, the conservative VVD and the CDA Christian Democrats have been negotiating for just over three weeks with Geert Wilders’ PVV Freedom Party.

The PVV has an agreement to back the minority coalition on most issues, giving the government a slim parliamentary majority. Last week, prominent PVV MP Hero Brinkman left the party, reducing the number of VVD, CDA and PVV MPs to 75 – exactly half the total members of parliament. Brinkman, however, has said the he will continue voting for the government.

The latest reports say the coalition partners, the VVD and CDA, have been pressing not only for more massive cutbacks, but also for systematic reforms. These are said to include reducing the generous tax breaks on mortgage interest payments, quickening the introduction of a higher pensionable age and raising some health insurance premiums.

The government is reported to be arguing that the reforms will strengthen the Dutch economy in the long term. Mr Wilders is thought to be resisting these ideas, worried that he will alienate voters if he is seen to be behind the measures. He is reported to have already threatened to back out of the talks.

RTL TV news is quoting sources in The Hague as saying Mr Wilders “no longer knows what he wants”. RTL says the government is close to falling and that the ball is now in Mr Wilders’ court.


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