Elections likely as Wilders rejects cuts package

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It has been confirmed that government talks on billions of euros’ worth of extra cutbacks have broken down. More spending cuts are needed to reduce the 2013 budget deficit to within the European Union limit - three percent of GDP.

The development is likely to have far-reaching consequences for the Netherlands, including the fall of the government, new elections and a possible lowering of the country’s international credit rating.

The coalition of the conservative VVD and the Christian Democrats has been negotiating for nearly two months with Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party. The Freedom Party has up to now had an agreement with the minority government to back it on most issues, giving it a slim parliamentary majority.

The talks had reached a final stage, with discussions centring on figures from the Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis outlining whether the cutbacks agreed by the parties would achieve the three percent budget deficit target for 2013 - and what effect they would have on the Dutch economy.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte accuses Mr Wilders of lacking the political courage and the will to go through with an accord on the cuts. He said the result would probably be a general election.

He told a press conference that the Freedom Party leader had already agreed to a package of spending cuts which would have delivered a budget deficit of within three percent, and that money had been found to compensate somewhat for the reduction in purchasing power.

Mr Wilders says the accord would have hit economic growth, increased unemployment and damaged purchasing power, especially for people on pensions. He has withdrawn his support for the minority government and now wants elections “the sooner, the better”. He blamed the European Union, saying “we won’t let our pensioners bleed for Brussels”.


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