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Dutch PM faces possible no-confidence vote over Greece bailout


Mark RutteDutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is on Wednesday to face a grilling in parliament, and a possible no-confidence vote, for his cabinet’s support for debt-ridden Greece’s third international bailout.

Lawmakers in the 150-seat Lower House have been recalled from summer recess to attend the debate, due to start at 1000 GMT in The Hague.

The Dutch cabinet led by Rutte’s liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and its junior Labour (PVdA) partner has backed the latest emergency bailout of up to 86 billion euros ($96 billion), approved by eurozone finance ministers last Friday.

The cabinet — which includes Eurogroup chairman and Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, does not need parliament’s approval to give the unprecedented loan the thumbs up, to which The Netherlands is expected to contribute almost 5.0 billion euros.

Rutte’s own VVD party, which has previously said it would not support the bailout if it did not have the International Monetary Fund’s backing, on Tuesday grudgingly agreed to back the package after a lengthy meeting behind closed doors.

The IMF, whose chief Christine Lagarde has called the plan “a very important step forward”, has said it will wait until October to decide whether to participate.

“The fact remains that it’s difficult for everybody,” Rutte told the NOS national news broadcaster Tuesday during an informal cabinet meeting.

“In the end however it’s not only in Greece’s interest, but in Europe’s interest for it to be carried through,” Rutte said.

The liberal premier has come under fire for breaking a 2012 election promise in which he said no more money would go to Athens after two previous bailouts.

Far-right eurosceptic parliamentarian Geert Wilders, who has bitterly opposed financial aid to Greece, is to ask for a vote of no-confidence against Rutte’s cabinet.

Observers said however that the motion was unlikely to pass, particularly now that Rutte’s ruling VVD has given the plan its backing together with its Labour partner and progressive centrist opposition party D66.

The centrist Christian Democrats (CDA) are now the only party yet to take up a position on the bailout.

Five other opposition parties including Wilders’ Freedom party and the powerful Socialist Party are expected to be against.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel is to call on the country’s parliament Wednesday to approve the bailout, but could face a revolt from lawmakers within her own conservative ranks.

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