Prime minister and VVD leader Mark Rutte launched a strong attack on the Labour party on Saturday, as a new poll says the gap between the two parties has narrowed to just one seat.
In an interview with the Telegraaf, Rutte warned that the rise of the PvdA is ‘a danger to the Netherlands’ and said the party’s plans would involve ‘fewer roads, fewer jobs and longer waiting lists.’
Rutte’s strong words come as a new Maurice de Hond opinion poll puts Labour just one seat behind the VVD, as the swing from the Socialists to PvdA continues.
With 21 parties contesting the September 12 election and 10 or 11 of them likely to win seats in the 150-seat parliament, putting a new coalition cabinet together is likely to be a lengthy process.
Opinion polls now indicate a purple coalition – a combination of the two Liberal parties VVD and D66, and Labour – is now a likely outcome. The coalition takes its name from the combination of party colours.
However, both Rutte and Labour leader Diederik Samsom have said such an alliance is not yet on the cards. Rutte told the Telegraaf again on Saturday it would be very difficult for the right-wing Liberals to work together with Labour because of their ideological differences. ‘A purple cabinet is a long way off,’ he said.
The Volkskrant, however, states a purple cabinet is now almost inevitable. Rutte and Samsom are shouting loudly about how they can’t work together, but they are unlikely to have any other choice,’ the paper says.
Both right and left-wing cabinets would involve too many parties and ‘all the combinations without the two big parties look almost impossible’, the paper says.
Europe is likely to have a central role in the formation talks – with both the SP and Geert Wilders’ PVV taking a strong anti-European line.
The Financial Times said in an analysis on Friday Rutte has ‘displayed a masterful ability to strike agreements in Brussels while satisfying his conservative constituents that he is protecting parochial Dutch interests’.
Rutte’s combination of willingness to go along with eurozone rescue measures, but only with strict conditions attached, mirrors Dutch voters’ anxieties, the FT says.
Nevertheless, even if he wins Wednesday’s election Rutte will probably be forced to form a coalition government with more pro-European centrist parties such as Labour, the paper points out.
Earlier this week, Rutte came under fire from all sides for saying he did not support giving any more financial help to Greece. ‘I say enough is enough’, Rutte told a televised debate.
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