Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tendered his government’s resignation to Queen Beatrix on Monday after the collapse of a parliamentary partnership with a far-right party.
The resignation has been widely expected since the weekend when Rutte acknowledged that his government’s rift with anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party would likely lead to early elections, otherwise due in May 2015.
Although not part of the ruling coalition, Wilders’ party had effectively guaranteed the government’s majority for the last 18 months by agreeing to support it in parliament.
That arrangement came to an abrupt halt at the weekend when talks about a new package of austerity measures foundered.
The talks at the centre of the row aimed at cutting 16 billion euros (U$21 billion) off the budget, which sat at 4.7 percent of gross domestic product for 2011, and hoped to steer Europe’s fifth-largest economy back within EU deficit targets.
But Wilders quit the talks, saying his supporters would not bow to Brussels’ demands and shortly afterwards Rutte announced that negotations had failed and that new elections were likely.