Budget: what the papers say

Queen Beatrix dominates the front pages of the post-Budget Day newspapers, with both the Volkskrant and NRC carrying the same photograph of a somber-looking monarch with her head bowed.

‘The crisis demands more sacrifices’, is the headline in the Volkskrant. ‘The pain of the financial crisis is not yet over. Spending power will fall for the fourth year in a row’.
In an inside analysis the Volkskrant comments on an important change in her speech compared with 2011: ‘This year two substantial paragraphs were dedicated to Europe’, the paper points out.
The measures mentioned – a strict budget discipline, a euro commissioner – all date from last year, and were mentioned in a letter to parliament written a week before the queen’s speech. The letter marked ‘a great change in Rutte’s attitude to Europe’, the paper states. But that is not surprising, the Volkskrant concludes, as it also marked a parting of the ways for Rutte and Wilders.

Hollow words

NRCnext uses the headline ‘As if there is nothing the matter’, describing the queen’s speech as being full of hollow words. ‘The question is,’ the paper asks ‘what will be left of the plans in a few months’ time?’
The Telegraaf has a smiling queen in her coach under the headline ‘Resilience expected’. Like the other papers, the Telegraaf focuses on the rise in value-added tax to 21% which will come into effect in two weeks time.
‘Everyone knows the major changes needed can only be achieved through serious political will,’ the paper says in its editorial. ‘The parties which will take part in a new cabinet face an enormous challenge.’
New coalition
The AD’s front page budget coverage focuses on the hats worn by female MPs, with the main news article looking at the ongoing talks to form a new government. ‘Rutte and Samsom are going for a turbo formation,’ says the paper, referring to the speed of the negotiations between the VVD and PvdA.
The gloomy tone of the queen’s speech shows there is every reason to put together a new cabinet as soon as possible, the paper concludes.
The Financieele Dagblad’s analysis – titled ‘Budget written in stone’ – remarks on the rapid transformation of Mark Rutte and Diederik Samsom from ‘sworn enemies’ to ‘two men speaking as one’. Both Rutte and Samsom said any changes to the 2013 budget would have to be based on viable alternatives, the paper points out.
‘There are things in the budget we don’t agree with. We hope to stop them. But that means we need to think of alternatives’, the paper quotes Samsom as saying.
This is in line with former finance minister Jan Kees de Jager’s ‘somber tone’, writes FD. De Jager – ‘this financial storm is far from abating’ – insists on immediate and incisive action to get government finance back on track.
‘The €12bn austerity package will shrink the deficit to 2.7% but next year the government will still be spending €46m more a day than it receives’, the paper points out. Both Labour and VVD want to annul the abolition of the tax on travel expenses, although FD writes, the money – €1.3m – will have to come from somewhere.
FD concludes that the pre-election rhetoric about changing ‘all those nasty measures’ has quickly been replaced by the realisation at both Labour and VVD headquarters that it might not be that easy.

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