Christian Democrats extend hand to government

The opposition Christian Democrats have offered to ensure the government can get legislation through the upper house of parliament if it agrees to freeze teaching, civil service and healthcare workers’ salaries.

Party leader Sybrand van Haersma Buma told the Volkskrant on Saturday that as long as the budget deficit is above 3%, all public sector spending should be frozen. The CDA has 11 seats in the senate, enough to give the government its much-needed majority.

It is unclear whether the VVD and Labour coalition will accept the CDA’s offer. Ministers plan to reach deficit targets – through a €6bn austerity package – through a combination of cuts and tax increases.

Pay rises

In addition, two recent agreements signed between ministers, employers and unions for the healthcare and education sectors both envisage pay rises for workers.

Buma told the paper 90% of current government policy is roughly in line with the CDA’s position. ‘We will support the government where we can,’ he said. ‘I don’t want new elections. If the cabinet can move our direction a little bit, the Netherlands can get a lot further.’

In particular, Buma wants the cabinet to scrap its planned tax increases, due to be announced in Tuesday’s budget.

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