It has all gone rather quiet on the formation talks – he’s a sensible man, that Hans Wijffels who is in charge. Move the negotiations out of that hotbed of gossip, The Hague, and the rumour stream immediately dies down. Nevertheless, there is a little news around today: this time on the thorny issue of pensions.

Before the talks began, CDA leader (and prime minister) Jan Pieter Balkenende said an insistence that wealthier pensioners pay contributions towards state pensions was absolutely out of the question.
The PvdA (Labour) were adamant that this had to happen. Now the Telegraaf reports that the PvdA is prepared to amend its plan and the CDA has said pension changes were ‘not not open to discussion.
Both are tending towards a compromise dreamt up by the third party in the talks, ChristenUnie. ChristenUnie suggests lowering the 17.9% state pension premium and increasing income tax instead. This means that pensioners would not pay state pension premiums – but would pay higher taxes. Very crafty. And poor pensioners will, of course, get compensation for their higher tax bill through some other complicated scheme.
It is, of course, a deeply cunning plan which means that no-one will lose face. ChristenUnie has definitely got the hang of this cabinet formation lark.

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