INTERNATIONAL. Outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte appealed to lawmakers on Tuesday to support his package of budget cuts despite the collapse of his government, insisting public spending had to be reined in.
"I am standing here in the hope that parties will be willing to work with the cabinet to do what is essentially necessary for the Netherlands," Rutte said in an address to the Lower House.
"Standing still is not good for the Netherlands," he added.
Rutte submitted the resignation of his centre-right cabinet to Queen Beatrix on Monday after the collapse of its parliamentary partnership with a far-right party over the austerity measures.
The crisis was triggered Saturday when the Freedom Party, led by Geert Wilders, walked out of budget negotiations designed to ensure that Europe's fifth-largest economy brings itself back within eurozone deficit targets.
Wilders, an arch eurosceptic best known for campaigning against Islam, said his supporters "could not live up to the demands" and accused Brussels of "stealing money from the wallets of the poor and the elderly."
Although not part of the ruling coalition, Wilders' party had effectively guaranteed the government's majority for the last 18 months by supporting it in parliament. That arrangement now lies in tatters, with new elections looming.
Rutte's liberal VVD party, its coalition partner the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Party had been negotiating for seven weeks on how to cut 16 billion euros (U$21 billion) from the budget which stood at 4.7% of GDP in 2011.
The European Union's deficit ceiling is three percent of GDP