Breaking News: Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutt and his Cabinet Resign

Time seems to run out for the minority government as seven weeks of talks to  hammer out an austerity package aimed at bringing the Dutch budget deficit back  within European Union limits collapsed Saturday April 21, 2012, the prime  minister said, laying the blame squarely with anti-EU lawmaker Geert Wilders.  Prime Minister Mark Rutte said his minority Cabinet will hold a crisis meeting  Monday April 23, 2012 to discuss what to do now. “Elections are the logical next  step,” Rutte said, but he added that he wants to work with parliament to hammer  out austerity measures before a poll can take place.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — 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  Rutt 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.

Special Note:

The Netherlands will go to the polls to choose a new parliament on June 9. But   although, officially, Dutch voters will only be electing the 150 members of de   Tweede Kamer, the real race will be fought out between the contenders   for the highest Dutch office, that of prime minister.

Looking at the current polls, it seems to have become a showdown between four   men: incumbent Jan Peter Balkenende, Labour challenger Job Cohen, right-wing   liberal Mark Rutte and enfant terrible Geert Wilders. Their   neck-and-neck race illustrates the fragmented political landscape of the   Netherlands, where traditional parties no longer boast a loyal following. We’ll keep following this.

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