Dutch Premier Defends Austerity, Says No To More Greek Aid

Dutch caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte, seeking a return to power after Sept. 12 elections, said he would block a third aid package for Greece and defended austerity as the only way out of Europe’s debt crisis.

“We’ve helped twice and now it’s up to the Greeks to show that they want to stay within the euro,” Liberal leader Rutte, 45, said in a debate between the four main party leaders in Amsterdam last night broadcast on RTL television. “The Netherlands has been severely hit by the debt crisis and the solution is to lower taxes, get government finances in order and make room for investment.”

The Socialists, led by Emile Roemer, have a three-seat lead over Rutte’s party, known in Dutch as the VVD, with enough support for 35 of the 150 seats in parliament, according to a Maurice de Hond poll published yesterday. The survey gave both the Freedom Party and the Labor Party18 seats. In an Ipsos Synovate poll, published Aug. 24, Rutte’s party led with 34 seats, four more than Roemer’s.

It means a third of Dutch voters back the Socialists, who oppose more spending cuts and refuse to hand over more sovereignty to Europe, or the Freedom Party, which seeks an exit from the European Union and the euro. That will make it tough for Rutte, an ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in her efforts to stem the crisis, to find support from perhaps three or four parties for a majority in parliament and keep cutting the deficit.

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