Opposition parties have been quick to state their positions after the prime minister said he would be appealing to a broad group to win support for a new €9bn package of spending cuts.
The VVD-CDA minority government and alliance partner PVV are in the middle of negotiations on new cuts to get the budget deficit under control, in line with EU monetary union rules.
However, the coalition has lost its overall majority in parliament following the decision of PVV parliamentarian Hero Brinkman to leave the party but stay on as an independent. Rutte said on Friday this ‘special political situation’ meant he would be looking to all 11 parties represented in parliament for support. ‘We are going to go very broad,’ he said.
Opposition to alliance
According to the NRC, there is growing opposition within the VVD to the alliance with Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration party. Senior members in particular are angry at Wilders’ apparent refusal to accept structural reforms to the tax system, jobs market and pension system.
Former VVD minister Johan Remkes even called for an alliance with Labour (PvdA), rather than the PVV, saying he did not favour new elections because of the economic crisis.
However, new Labour leader Diederick Samsom made it immediately clear he will not shore up the minority coalition if the PVV pulls out. ‘You don’t solve this crisis with lots of unconnected plans but with a cohesive package of reforms and measures,’ Samsom is quoted as saying by news agency ANP. ‘If Rutte has no support for his approach, he should call an election.’
D66 leader Alexander Pechtold also called for new elections if the current talks fail to produce results. If that happens, it is up to parliament to decide what to do, Pechtold told television show Nieuwsuur.
Fundamentalist Christian party SGP, which holds the balance of power in the upper house of parliament, is already flexing its muscles. Its support could now be crucial to the government in the lower house as well following Brinkman’s departure.
Research by the Nederlands Dagblad on Saturday showed local SGP politicians would like to see concessions in return for the party’s support for more cuts. In particular, they say abortion and euthanasia laws should be tightened up, there should be better protection for fundamentalist schools and a reduction in Sunday shopping, the paper reported.
However, SGP leader Kees van der Staaij told Radio 1 news he did not expect these would be issues for political horse trading. ‘That is not how it works,’ Van der Staaij said.
Meanwhile, a second opinion poll has put the PVV and Labour in joint third place if a general election were to be held tomorrow. The latest Maurice de Hond poll has the PVV down four seats on 21 following Brinkman’s resignation.
The VVD remains the biggest party in the De Hond poll followed by the Socialists.
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