, THE HAGUE, Apr – The Netherlands is headed for early elections after coalition talks on a fiscal austerity package broke down Saturday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said.
“I have to inform you today that the three parties have failed to come to common answers. Therefore it stops,” a visibly upset Rutte told reporters in The Hague. “Elections are obvious.”
The ruling coalition and its far-right parliamentary ally had launched make-or-break talks on the contentious measures on March 5. The negotiations were initially scheduled to last three weeks.
Seven weeks later, talks collapsed at the last moment when far-right and Eurosceptic politician Geert Wilders, whose Freedom Party (PVV) gave Rutte’s government a slender majority in parliament, walked out.
Data from the country’s central planning bureau showed last month the 2013 public deficit would rise to 4.6 percent of domestic gross product under current conditions, while the EU deficit ceiling is 3.0 percent of GDP.