Most Dutch back cuts in salaries and benefits

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Most Dutch support cutbacks in salaries and benefits and an easing of dismissal procedures, a survey on the current government talks on additional budget cuts suggests.

Two thirds of respondents are in favour of lowering unemployment benefits by five percent and freezing salaries in the private sector. The measures are also endorsed by a wide majority of Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party voters. But few people, both on the left and the right, agree with raising VAT or raising health insurance deductibles.

The ruling VVD and CDA parties are locked in talks with the Freedom Party to seek up to 16 billion euros in additional cuts in order to bring last year’s budget deficit of 4.7 percent down to the EU-mandated maximum of three percent. On Thursday, the day after the negotiations were suspended, the three parties reached agreement on cutting one billion euros in development aid, as demanded by the Freedom Party. Just 19 percent of Christian Democrat voters, however, agree with cuts in development aid. The announcement to cut one billion euros in that area prompted several key Christian Democrats to denounce the plan.

The move is unanimously backed by Freedom Party voters, whose party is a crucial supporter of the centre-right minority coalition without being part of it.

(cl/rk)

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