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Outgoing Dutch PM anticipates September snap poll

The Netherlands' outoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose majority in parliament collapsed on Monday after the far right quit in protest at austerity measures, has said he expects a snap election to be held on September 12.


AFP - Outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Tuesday he expected snap polls on September 12 following the collapse of his government over austerity measures.

"I can imagine that we will decide on Friday (at a cabinet meeting) to hold elections on September 12," he told the Dutch parliament, adding: "I don't see any polls before the summer."

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 over the austerity measures.

The crisis was triggered Saturday when the Freedom Party, led by Geert Wilders, walked out of budget negotiations designed to ensure that Europe's fifth-largest economy brings itself back within eurozone deficit targets.

Although not part of the ruling coalition, Wilders' party had effectively guaranteed the government's majority for the last 18 months by supporting it in parliament. That arrangement is in tatters, with new elections looming.

Rutte's 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 (U$ 19 billion), 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, way over the EU ceiling of three percent of GDP.


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