MPs from all the three parties forming the new cabinet have in general approved the draft coalition agreement although some minor adjustments have been called for.
The leaders of the three parties – Christian Democrats, Labour and the ChristenUnie – are expected to have final discussions on the agreement today before formally presenting their plans for the coming four years. MPs from all three parties said they were able to recognise their party’s election manifesto in the coalition agreement.
The most criticism came from the smallest coalition partner, the orthodox ChristenUnie party. According to NOS, CU MPs have called for changes to a number of important points in the coalition agreement. However, CU leader Andre Rouvoet said his party was generally positive about the coalition agreement despite the ‘hefty discussions’.
Labour MPs too were satisfied with the outcome of the negotiations and were particularly pleased with the proposed social and environmental policies. However they too identified areas for further discussion.
According to CDA leader Jan Pieter Balkenende (who will be prime minister for the fourth time) his party’s MPs were enthusiastic with the coalition agreement. The Volkskrant quoted one backbencher as saying the proposed investment in social policies was ‘balsam to the soul’ although another said the compromise on pensions remained a ‘painful point’. The coalition partners have agreed that wealthy pensioners who retire early will have to continue to a pay pension premium.
MPs from all three parties met last night to discuss the details of the coalition agreement, large parts of which had already been widely leaked by the press.
However at the end of Monday BNR Nieuwsradio announced that it had obtained half of the 54 pages of the actual document which it published on its website. This revealed that the new cabinet is to reduce taxes and premiums by €3 bn and invest €7 bn in education, the environment and healthcare.
Other new measures that emerged at the end of the day include:
– Further competition in the healthcare sector
– An eco-tax on air tickets
– A three month social work internship for schoolchildren
– Replacing compulsory job seeking for single parents with kids under five with a obligatory
– Increasing ministers’ salaries by 30%
For more details of the new cabinet’s plans see yesteray’s story ‘New cabinet policy leaks out’.
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