Negotiations blip: What was THAT all about – What the papers say

The PVV pull out on Wednesday did not herald new elections after all. The search for the missing billions is continuing. So what was it all in aid of then? What the papers say.

The Volkskrant is opting for the theory that the negotiation break up may have been a deliberate strategy to show Wilders voters Henk & Ingrid how agonisingly difficult the decisions are that the PVV leader is facing.
The photograph of the ‘terrace scene’ – smiling negotiators sitting around the table while Rutte – also smiling but that goes without saying – has his arm around a despondent looking Wilders. According to the Volkskrant, the message the photograph is meant to convey is that the ambiance couldn’t be more convivial but that Wilders is having a hard time. ‘Buck up, it’s going to be fine’, the paper imagines the prime minister saying to him.
Politician at war with himself
The fact that Wilders himself was part of ‘this little play’ means that he would like to sustain the image of himself as a politician at war with himself, the paper writes. ‘He will then be better able to justify the draconian cutbacks to his voters. He will say that they will be painful but that the accord is in the best interest of the country. He will also say that elections may have given the opposition a chance to form part of a new coalition’, predicts the paper.
Trouw thinks the interests of the country would be best served if the negotiations were to break down, and the sooner the better. The paper says Wilders will not give in to the cabinet but sees a spineless cabinet that is going to water down the economic reforms the country so urgently needs.
‘Enough is enough. Wilders is the man who is always putting on the brakes. He’s standing still while the cabinet should be moving forward and getting off the trodden paths’, the paper writes.
If the three parties fail to come to an agreement, there will be little chance of elections before the summer, Trouw thinks. But formally the cabinet wouldn’t have to go immediately and the coalition parties would do well to work with the opposition on the necessary measures.
Elsevier doesn’t agree with Trouw: ‘The Netherlands would have ended up in a swampy scenario had the negotiations broken down. There is no credible alternative’, Elsevier comments. ‘Wilders is rumoured not to want to implement far reaching cutbacks but are the other parties really ready to? This cabinet came about because the PvdA did not want to contribute to the cutbacks that were necessary even then’, the paper writes.
An alternative coalition of D66, GroenLinks and ChristenUnie may lead to reforms but these will most likely lead to a loss of spending power. ‘If the cabinet were to fall and a lame cabinet put in its place, the country would suffer. Even if a new coalition were possible, chances are that it will be made up of so many parties that no one will trust it and the country will be left in an impasse. Wilders himself has nothing to gain by elections if they serve to bring Diederik Samsom or Emile Roemer to power’, Elsevier concludes.
NRC looks at the leaders of the main parties. Mark Rutte would almost certainly loose the prime ministership: the opposition will play on the fact that he was not able to bring stability to the country in a time of economic crisis. Rutte then, has every reason to want a successful end to the negotiations, the paper writes.
Maxime Verhagen would ‘join the 79,000 middle-aged men looking for a job’ if the cabinet should fall. Verhagen has said he will not be in the race for the leadership.
Geert Wilders’position is clear, the paper writes. After an election, the CDA will certainly not want to have the PVV as an ally. VVD and SGP may think otherwise but chances that the three parties will gain a majority are small. Wilders apparently wants to come to an accord. ‘Business as usual then, the paper concludes.
Structural decrease
The paper also cites a worried Klaas Knot, presidentof the Dutch National Bank. ‘It would be pretty bad if the cabinet were to fall’, he said at the presentation of the yearly figures of the DNB. It would be affect the interest the Netherlands has to pay in the international markets and a whole year would be lost since a new cabinet would not be installed before the next budget day. According to Knot, the Netherlands ‘absolutely must’ bring back the budget deficit to 3%. The main problem is the structural decrease in economic growth, Knot said.

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