AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch government’s approval ratings have slipped after it supported Greece’s latest bailout, and just as it prepares for a crucial budget bill, a poll released on Sunday showed.
The government, led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Liberals, is set for negotiations with several opposition parties whose support it needs to get a 2016 budget through the senate, where it does not have a majority. Failure to pass a budget would spell the end for Rutte’s shaky government, though a compromise is seen as the most likely outcome.
Pollster Maurice de Hond said that Rutte’s credibility was damaged in a debate on the Greece bailout on Wednesday when he acknowledged he will break a pledge he made during 2012 elections that he would give “not one more cent” to Greece.
Rutte’s Liberals fell from first place in the weekly poll to fourth place behind populist politician Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party, the Socialists, and the Christian Democrats, all of whom opposed the Greece bailout.
That reversal is not as dramatic as it sounds, as support for the four is tightly clustered between 14 and 16 percent respectively.
The government had hoped its position in the polls would improve over the summer along with the Dutch economy, which is continuing to gather steam.
Junior coalition party Labour has lost about two-thirds of its popularity with voters since the 2012 election as Labour voters disapproved of the government’ austerity policies. Labour’s weak position is a further incentive for opposition parties to attempt to extract concessions during the budget talks.
Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Susan Fenton