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Prime minister, senior officials in talks on coalition crisis

Monday 12 November 2012

Prime minister Mark Rutte, Labour leader Diederik Samsom and other senior party officials are holding talks on Monday afternoon in an effort to get the new coalition government back on track.

A Maurice de Hond opinion poll on Sunday said support for the Liberal-Labour coalition has slumped following the row over its plans to make health insurance premiums income-dependent.

On Friday, ministers announced they would drop the plans following a storm of protests, particularly from VVD supporters. Calculations showed some families would lose up to 10% of their spending power if the changes went ahead.

On Tuesday afternoon, Rutte and his team of ministers are due to debate the new coalition's plans with parliament but the Financieele Dagblad says this may now not go ahead as ministers try to come up with alternatives.


Social affairs minister and deputy prime minister Lodewijk Asscher told reporters ahead of the talks he is optimistic about the outcome of Monday's talks.

Ministers are trying to come up with an alternative method of redistributing income, in line with Labour party wishes. Several options, mainly involving tax increases, are on the table.

The Financieele Dagblad said at the weekend the third tax band may now be increased from 42% to 45%. The government had originally planned to cut the third tax band to 38% to compensate people for the higher health insurance costs. The fourth tax band, currently 52%, could also be put up, the paper says.

Another option could be to press ahead with making health insurance premium's income-dependent but to reduce the effective health tax from 11% to 8% and spread it over incomes up to €150,000.

Income gap

Labour leader Samsom has stressed the new plan must meet the conditions of the coalition agreement by strengthening the economy, getting the government's finances in order and reducing the gap between rich and poor.

This means some form of wealth redistribution is inevitable, insiders say.

The De Hond poll showed if there were a general election tomorrow, the right-wing VVD would win just 23 seats, almost half their general election total of 41. Labour is also down sharply at 27. The PvdA has 38 in the new-look parliament.

How did they get it so wrong? Have your say using the comment box below.

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

What is this fascination with redistribution of wealth? I thought the whole reason for discussions about the budget was because our smart guys in the government were spending more than they were taking in? So how is taking money from my and giving to someone else going to help with the budget?

By Aaron | 12 November 2012 3:21 PM

Rutte & Samsom are out of touch with reality. How about they play at "undercover boss" for a while to find out what it actually is like to live in this country? Then perhaps they might make decisions that lead to a better economy etc etc.

By Maria | 12 November 2012 3:25 PM

In Greece people are actually people having trouble to feed their children. And here we complain that middle class loses some of their spending power. And judging from the comments here it is not only the Dutch who have such priviliged expectations.

By pepe | 12 November 2012 3:47 PM

It makes no sense at all to pursue an income re-distribution policy in a free-market economy. It penalises enterpreneurship and encourages tax evasion. Unless the objective is to revert to Karl Marx's communism, but then the state supports everyone's social, helath and economic welfare!

By kalajutu | 12 November 2012 4:32 PM

It doesn;t surprise me that they got it so wrong. PvDA sold out to VVD. And VVD tried to ride roughshod over everyone. Instead of pulling the money back from the bankers (whose greed caused this mess in the first place) Rutte seems determined to punish the very people who have already suffered enough.. let alone who have already been "financially harvested". I have no pension left (that was stolen during the Great ABNAmro Swindle).. no benefits should I fall ill (I have already survived a year off work from cancer).. I'm already sick and tired of this government's blind stupidity.

By Andy | 12 November 2012 4:39 PM

They expected the middle classes to magically find money behind the sofa? They are expecting:

1. the middle class to pay off their mortgages
2. the middle class to pay more than anyone else in the country for their health care.
3. the middle class to pay more BTW
4. the middle class to pay more in general taxation
5. to pay more for childcare.
6. the middle classes to spend more to get the economy moving again.
7. to cope with inflation and low pay rises.

Unfortunately, the middle classes live on a fixed income, don't enjoy cheap housing, and their decisions about financial commitments are thought over quite hard. Some commitments (children, mortgages, etc.) are not easily changed.

By H. | 12 November 2012 4:43 PM

So, is it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out why the middle classes have rebelled.

By H. | 12 November 2012 4:44 PM

Less than 25% of people voted PvdA.
This is not a popular mandate to ruin the lives of the other 75%.

It is nice that people know what to expect before they vote and not 2 months later.
PvdA has now 3 leaders in less than 3 years hardly political stability

By nd | 12 November 2012 4:53 PM

Is the Netherlands this much in debt?!?

I have yet to hear what the budget gap is and why health care costs are bleeding the GDP dry. I would have thought to keep the Netherlands competitive, the politicians would want to build the middle class and not drive them to extinction or towards upper poverty. First scare away tourists now scare the working class. Good grief - who's driving this boat?

Here's an idea: close the tax loop holes, support home owners, and try to grow the economy and not tax the hell out of it.

By Jimbo | 12 November 2012 5:06 PM

Not finding it so easy are they? I bet Geert Wilders is quietly laughing to himself. Rightly so too. Poetic justice I'd say!

By Heidi | 13 November 2012 2:11 AM

Eh, it's not like Wilders has a solution to this mess either, Heidi. At least not beyond "throw out all the Muslims and somehow, magically, everything will get better!"

By B | 13 November 2012 10:13 AM

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