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Dutch Government Collapses Over Austerity Budget

Liberals-led minority government in the Netherlands collapsed on Monday as Prime Minister Mark Rutte resigned after coalition talks on reducing the country's budget deficit to meet European guidelines failed to reach agreement.

The government was in crisis at the weekend as the extreme right Freedom Party (PVV) withdrew its support, with its anti-Islamist populist leader Geert Wilders saying he would not accept the government's additional EUR 14 billion austerity program meant to bring the fiscal deficit to 3% by 2013.

Freedom Party has been supporting a center-right coalition between Rutte's VVD and the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) without joining it since the government's formation in October 2010.

The 52-member coalition cannot get legislation passed without the support of 24 PVV lawmakers in the 150-member States-General, or the House of Representatives.

The Netherlands has been asked to submit its budget measures to the European Commission by April 30, but it is not sure if the caretaker government can pass legislation concerning European issues with the support of the opposition.

Rutte submitted his resignation to Queen Beatrix in the afternoon after a cabinet meeting in the morning. The Queen accepted it, and asked Rutte to continue in a caretaker capacity. She urged Rutte's colleagues in the cabinet "to continue to do everything that is necessary in the interests of the kingdom," the Dutch government information service said in a statement.

A parliamentary debate to discuss the political crisis, the interim budget cuts and a schedule of snap polls is expected to take place on Tuesday, and Rutte is due to address the parliament in the afternoon.

The Dutch parliament has a tenure of up toy 2015 May, but Rutte's government lasted just 558 days.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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