Dutch Queen asks cabinet to okay fresh polls
The Hague: Dutch Queen Beatrix has asked Prime Minister Mark Rutte's outgoing cabinet to help dissolve Parliament, thereby setting the wheels in motion for fresh elections expected by September 12.
The monarch, who is the head of the Dutch state, made the request after meeting the speakers of both the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament earlier yesterday evening, the government's information service (RVD) said in a statement.
She also met outgoing premier Rutte at her palace in The Hague.
"The speaker of the Lower House has conveyed his wish to the Queen to conduct early elections on September 12," the RVD said shortly before late yesterday night.
"Based on this, the Queen has requested to outgoing cabinet to promote the dissolution of the Lower House, thereby making elections possible on this date," it said.
Rutte submitted the resignation of his centre-right cabinet to Queen Beatrix on Monday after the collapse of its parliamentary partnership with a far-right party was prompted by a disagreement over austerity measures.
The crisis was triggered Saturday when the Freedom Party, led by eurosceptic politician Geert Wilders, quit budget talks designed to ensure that Europe's fifth-largest economy brings itself back within eurozone deficit targets.
Although not part of Rutte's ruling coalition, Wilders' party had effectively guaranteed the government's majority for the last 18 months by supporting it in Parliament.
Rutte yesterday announced September 12 as the likely date for fresh polls, with the final decision resting with the outgoing Dutch cabinet.
His liberal VVD party, its coalition partner the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Party had been negotiating for seven weeks on the package.
But Wilders at the last moment refused to give the nod on measures that would save 14.4 billion euros, bringing the deficit down to 2.8 percent of gross domestic product in 2013.
The Dutch budget deficit stood at 4.7 percent of GDP last year, with Brussels putting the deficit ceiling at three percent of GDP.