Austerity talks collapse as Wilders walks out, election now likely

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 Rutte and CDA leader Maxime Verhagen 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.
Verhagen said all hopes of an agreement had been dashed. The PVV leader has ‘left 16 million Dutch people in the lurch,’ he said.
PVV position
The Telegraaf reports that Wilders felt he had to withdraw from the negotiations after discussing the package of measures with other PVV officials.
The talks between the coalition and its alliance partner resumed on Saturday to assess the results of a financial analysis of the austerity measures.
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.
Elections
Labour leader Diederick Samsom said new elections are now inevitable. ‘Everyone will have to share in the pain of the crisis,’ he said.
However, if there is an election, it is unlikely to take place before September. This means the minority government will continue in a caretaker function until then, but will be unable to take significant steps to revitalise the economy without parliamentary approval.
In particular, it is unclear what the implications are for the 2013 budget – which the coalition alliance has spent the past seven weeks working towards. The budget is always presented on the third Tuesday in September.

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