We’re ready for business, says Rutte, extending a hand to the opposition

The cabinet is raring to get down to business and will work together with the opposition, unions, employers and other organisations, prime minister Mark Rutte said at the end of a two-day debate on the new government’s strategy.

The team of ministers are ‘very motivated’ and ‘trust is a key word’, the prime minister told parliament, as opinion polls show support for the new coalition as slumped.
The debate came after a stormy two weeks for the new administration when massive public and political opposition forced it to drop plans to make health insurance premiums income-dependent. Instead, tax shifts will be used to reduce the gap between rich and poor.
Almost all the nine opposition parties had earlier slammed the fact that the new government had been forced to amend its plans just two weeks after their publication.
Nevertheless, D66 Liberals, GroenLinks, ChristenUnie and the fundamentalist SGP said on Wednesday they would work constructively with ministers.
The anti-immigration PVV, Socialists and Christian Democrats said they would remain critical and accused the government of betraying voters. PVV leader Geert Wilders submitted a motion of no confidence in the government but no other party supported it.
The latter part of Wednesday’s debate focused largely on plans to cut spending on activities for the handicapped and elderly people suffering from dementia in 2015.
Ministers assured MPs that ‘adequate facilities’ will remain for those who want them. Services are to be transferred to local authorities.
NRC correspondent Eric van de Walle described Rutte’s performance as confident and said he had recovered some of his shine. Nevertheless, the prime minister will have to ensure all eventualities are looked at when presenting new government policies in the future, he said.
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