The precarious coalition that Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte (VVD, conservative/liberal) had cobbled together 18 months ago (with the Christian Democrats (CDA) and with the support of Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV)) collapsed on Saturday. The makeshift construction by which the PVV did not participate in government but ‘condoned’ it had been hanging by a thread already because they recently lost their minimal formal majority after the defection of one of Wilders’ lieutenants.
The bust-up came over cuts required to meet the 3% limit for the 2013 budget. With the deficit running at 4.8% some €14b had to be found, and the three party leaders had been negotiating for seven weeks in secret. Just as Rutte thought they were there – having found over €14b in all manner of measures to which Wilders had agreed individually – Wilders pulled the plug on the package, saying that he would
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