Budget talks to continue on Monday, but does chaos rule in The Hague?

Talks between finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem and the leaders of four opposition parties will continue on Monday afternoon as the cabinet continues to struggle to find majority support for its 2014 budget plans.

The cabinet does not control a majority of seats in the upper house of parliament, or senate, and needs to win opposition support for its €6bn package of cuts and tax hikes.

Last week the Christian Democrats pulled out of the talks, saying the government is not prepared to make sufficient concessions. D66 and three minor parties are still involved.


The cabinet’s efforts to win sufficient backing for its plans led to a string of editorials questioning the ‘chaos’ in The Hague.




The Financieele Dagblad pulled no punches. ‘There is disorder in The Hague,’ the paper wrote. ‘The process by which the cabinet hopes to get a parliamentary majority behind its plans is chaotic and is damaging the reputation of national politics.’


Two weeks after the budget was first presented, there is no sign the cabinet can muster sufficient support for its plans. You would almost think the cabinet is simply minding the shop pending a general election, the paper said.


Talks are underway with opposition parties but there is no deadline and everyone who wants to join in has been invited. VVD leader Mark Rutte and Labour leader Diederik Samsom wrongly estimated the ease with which the cabinet could work with both houses of parliament.




In its analysis, the Volkskrant writes of the ‘bizarre ritual of back-room politics and meaningless texts’. ‘Does chaos rule or is there a master plan?’ the paper asks.


The government is involved in ‘ad hoc talks with different line-ups’. Politicians are digging around in the dark like moles, but they are moles in a mine field and every move can cause a chain-reaction, the paper states.



The only concrete result of last weeks’ negotiations was the decision by the CDA to pull out of the talks.

However, to talk of chaos is exaggerating, the paper says. The Netherlands is built on compromise and has a long tradition of avoiding conflict. This does, however, take time, as this week’s activities have shown.




The Parool says the government’s plans can still get through the upper house of parliament.

Rather than beg for support from the opposition, prime minister Mark Rutte should show more backbone, the paper quotes former CDA senator Rob van de Beeten as saying. Senators may vote against the cabinet once or twice, but they will quickly tire of it, Van de Beeten says.


It is, he says, of national importance that the senate, whose role is to test out legislation rather than veto plans which have been approved in the lower house, be brought back under control.


Tax reform



The Parool says the vote on the national tax reforms in December will be crucial and Rutte can make them a question of confidence by threatening to resign if the senate rejects the proposals.

Does the senate really want to send the government home? the paper asks. Van de Beeten tells the paper he is convinced that under pressure, the senate will cave in and back the government.

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