The blame game – What the papers say

Who’s to blame for the collapse of Rutte I and should we have early elections? What the papers say.

‘A poisonous cocktail’, the Volkskrant calls the 2010 election results combined with the emotional formation that followed it and the unpredictability of Geert Wilders which has lead to the collapse of the cabinet 18 months later.
‘The state deficit is mounting by €80m a day and the labour market and the housing market are crying out for reform. Decisive action is needed but instead the country is faced with election campaigns and a summer break’, the paper writes despairingly.
The Volkskrant doesn’t believe for one minute that Geert Wilders really was surprised about what the CPB figures meant: ‘His real motive is self-interest. He wants to unite his frazzled party from the opposition benches. He wants to have his hands free to do what he does best: launching broadsides from the sidelines. His claim that the PVV could be a responsible government party has now been disproved once and for all’.
The prime minister and Maxime Verhagen, eager to put the blame on Wilders, are now punished for their ‘airy dismissals’ of the emotions aroused by the PVV alliance, the paper writes.
Rutte will now have to be serious about doing business with the opposition. The opposition parties will have to look beyond polarisation and find a compromise. Rutte has not done enough reforming: the package he presented leave the labout market unscathed and there is no structural reform of the housing market. That is where the solution may come from’, the paper writes. But most of all, ‘politicians will have to show what they’re made off. Only then can Dutch financial credibility be saved’, the paper concludes.
NRC also dismisses Wilders’ tardy rejection of a ‘Brussels dictate’. The paper notes that the one good thing that has come out of this is that the influence of the PVV on government policy is now a thing of the past. NRC has the same verdict as the Volkskrant when it comes to the package the government was going to present, comprising of a raft of measures that were ‘going to hit people in the pocket’ an increase in VAT, part payment for medication, higher income tax, a higher tax on tobacco, lower travel expenses, abolition of the basic grant and free school books. ‘It’s remarkable that a cabinet led by a VVD prime minister should go for an all out tax increase and increase in the costs of living but if you have to find billions in order to get the deficit down you may not have much choice’, the paper writes.
‘The question which needs to answered now is whether measures need to be taken now in order to bring down the deficit to 3% in 2013. The PVV didn’t want to and the PvdA, the biggest opposition party, thinks the tempo of the cutbacks doesn’t have to be this high. Nevertheless, the financial markets may urge quick interventions. (..) The solution lies in short-term cutbacks and (not too) long-term reform’, the paper concludes.
The Trouw editorial focuses on a different aspect of the Rutte I debacle: the clamour for early elections. ‘The parties who are ready may use their majority to urge the prime minister to call the elections before the summer’, the paper writes.
Trouw is indignant: ‘Other parties haven’t had a chance to get their candidacy lists in order or that groups who are considering entering the elections with an independent list will not be able to. People living abroad will barely be able to register and vote. But all this is irrelevant to power-hungry politicians.’
The mores of politics dictate that parties allow for these eventualities and choose a reasonable election date. But a parliamentary majority would change that and hopefully Rutte won’t agree with this despicable practice’, Trouw writes.
Billion euro question
And besides, early elections aren’t really necessary, the paper argues, because if a broadly agreed austerity package is hammered out in parliament before the elections, the concrete budget for 2013 is only of relative importance. How this will be achieved remains the billion euro question, the paper concludes.
Elections, asop
Elsevier can’t wait: ‘Elections as soon as possible: on the 27th of June’ it heads its editorial. ‘Not surprisingly, SP, PvdA and VVD are the ones who want early elections. They are doing well in the polls. The parties who want to wait also have their reasons. The Christian Democrats are rudderless and need to elect a new leader and the PVV needs time to come up with candidates whose conduct is impeccable for once’, the magazine writes.
But time is of the essence, Elsevier says. The other options are for the cabinet to continue governing with changing majorities on the basis of ‘accords’ that nobody in the opposition agrees with or an endless formation process which will mean the country won’t have a new government until 2013. ‘A lost year!’, Elsevier cries. Contrary to Trouw, Elsevier thinks Rutte should not be lenient: elections on June the 27th please, the magazine concludes.

Thank you for donating to

We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.

Make a donation