THE HAGUE (Reuters) - The Dutch government’s efforts to win parliamentary backing for last week’s euro rescue plan has been thrown into question after the opposition Labour Party said Greece’s surprise referendum plan was a “deal breaker.”
The comments strongly suggest that the Labour Party is unlikely to support the rescue measures during a parliamentary debate scheduled for Tuesday evening in The Hague, and that the minority coalition government may struggle to muster a majority for the latest deal.
Government parties Christian Democrats said a Greek referendum would be “undesirable,” and the Liberals said each euro zone country should meet last week’s rescue agreement, Dutch news agency ANP reported.
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou’s shock decision late on Monday to call a referendum on Greece’s bailout has drawn veiled threats from Germany and hammered markets edgy over the euro zone crisis.
European politicians complained that Athens was trying to wriggle out of the latest rescue deal, concerned not so much about the fate of Greece as the possibly dire consequences for the entire currency union.
The Dutch parliament was scheduled to hold a debate on Tuesday evening at 1900 GMT. No vote was scheduled but Prime Minister Mark Rutte was keen to muster majority support for the measures agreed last week.
“The Cabinet is concerned about the delay that can develop due to the uncertainty around Greece,” Rutte said in a letter to Parliament, adding that the bailout package agreed last month by euro zone leaders needed to be implemented swiftly.
While the package negotiated last week does not need the formal approval of euro zone national parliaments, failure to win majority support on the issue could force Rutte to return to Brussels and ask for changes to last week’s summit deal, specifically more guarantees that budget rules will be enforced in the single currency area.
The Liberal-Christian Democrat minority coalition needs opposition parties to approve euro zone bailouts because its main ally, Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration Freedom Party, is strongly opposed to such bailouts.
The debate will still go ahead, parliament said on Tuesday.
But Ronald Plasterk, a Labour Party member of parliament, on Tuesday said the Greek referendum was a deal breaker, indicating his party was unlikely to support the latest measures.
“We cannot wait for four months (to see) whether Greece will accept it or not. This is a game changer, a deal breaker,” Plasterk told reporters.
Reporting by Gilbert Kreijger and Aaron Gray-Block; Editing by Sara Webb/Anna Willard/Ruth Pitchford