Coalition deal to be presented today

MPs from the three parties forming the next Dutch cabinet on Tuesday night backed the coalition agreement which outlines government policy for the next four years. At the same time, it was announced that both Labour leader Wouter Bos and ChristenUnie leader André Rouvoet will join the cabinet – the fourth to be led by the Christian Democrats’ Jan Pieter Balkenende.

Bos is tipped as finance minister, Rouvoet possibly minister for the family. Both will also cover the deputy prime minister’s role.
Rouvoet, whose orthodox Christian party will also fill another ministerial post, said the new cabinet’s policy had a distinctly socio-Christian feel. ‘We have succeeded in offering an alternative. Repealing laws was never our aim,’ he said. ChristenUnie is opposed to abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage but these laws were left unchanged in the plans.
Bos refused to confirm that he would take the finance ministry job. Nor would he say what the motto of the new cabinet was.
Negotiators made some last minute changes to the coalition deal, including the state pension plans. Sources said people who work in particularly heavy jobs will not be penalised financially if they retire early. The ceiling at which pensioners with a private income will have to pay towards the state pension has also been raised to €18,000.
The opposition parties criticised the parts of the deal which have already been leaked. The Socialist Party and GroenLinks said they were disappointed by the lack of ambitious plans to tackle poverty and environmental problems.
The Liberals criticised the cabinet’s financial plans, saying the new government was abandoning the strict budgetary discipline of the previous regime.
The new government’s plans will be presented to the public today. Work will then continue on dividing up the ministerial positions.

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