THE HAGUE, AMSTERDAM (BNO NEWS) -- Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte submitted his cabinet's resignation on Monday afternoon after Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders walked out of austerity talks and withdrew his party's support for the minority coalition.
The Government Information Service (RVD) said Rutte offered the resignation of all ministers and state secretaries during a meeting with Queen Beatrix at the Huis ten Bosch Royal Palace in The Hague on Monday. "Her Majesty the Queen has taken the resignation request under consideration and asked the ministers and state secretaries to continue doing what they deem is in the best interest of the Kingdom," the RVD said.
The Netherlands, one of the euro zone's strongest economies and most stable democracies, was thrown into political crisis over the weekend when Wilders suddenly walked out of austerity negotiations and withdrew his support for the minority coalition. It followed weeks of talks, and people close to the negotiations said a deal had almost been reached.
Rutte had hoped to reach a deal which would cut the deficit to 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) next year, as is required by the European Union (EU). The Netherlands was among the countries which initially called for the EU's 3 percent rule, but Wilders heavily criticized the rule on Saturday despite having supported it in the past.
"What has happened is that we have said no to a negotiation result which we think is unacceptable for our voters," Wilders said during a press conference on Saturday. "And what is good for the Netherlands? What is not good for the Netherlands is to blindly accept the demands from Brussels (where the EU's headquarter is based), causing unemployment to rise, economic growth to stagnate and hit people in their wallets, especially the elderly. I would not have been able to explain that if we had said yes to that."
Both Rutte and Deputy Prime Minister Maxime Verhagen criticized Wilders for abandoning the talks after a basic agreement had been reached to cut some 14 billion euros ($18.4 billion). "All the measures we discussed in the last 7 weeks, in the end the PVV agreed to all these measures," Verhagen said. "All three parties participating in the negotiations said yes to those individual measures. And then it is of course strange that when the total picture is there, Wilders does not have the political courage to defend those measures which he previously agreed to."
A date for new elections to take place was not immediately announced on Monday.
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