MIKE CORDER and TOBY STERLING
April 23, 2012
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch government, one of the most vocal critics of European countries failing to rein in their budgets, quit Monday after failing to agree on a plan to bring its own deficit in line with EU rules.
The government information service announced Queen Beatrix had accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his Cabinet after a meeting in which Rutte told her talks on a new austerity package had failed over the weekend.
Rutte is to address parliament Tuesday to discuss interim measures to keep public finances in order and schedule new elections. No date for elections was immediately announced, but opposition lawmakers called for a vote as soon as possible.
The Dutch government collapse came a day after the first round election victory of France’s soft-on-austerity socialist candidate Francois Hollande. It calls into question whether austerity policies that are causing trauma in countries such as Greece, Spain and Portugal can be enforced even in “core” European countries such as France – or the Netherlands, one of the few along with Germany to maintain an AAA credit rating.