Rutte’s Dutch Liberal Party Backs Greek Aid, Breaks Promise

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Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Liberals joined other parties in backing a third aid program for Greece, breaking a pre-election promise to give the country no more aid.

Rutte’s Labor coalition partners and the opposition D66 party also expressed their support Wednesday. Lawmakers in The Hague rejected a motion of no-confidence in the prime minister brought by opposition Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders as well as several motions opposing the aid package.

The lower house had to return from its summer break to discuss the 86 billion-euro ($95 billion) international aid package that requires further economic reforms and austerity by Greece. The Netherlands will guarantee 5 billion euros.

“After the Greeks annoyed the other euro-area countries for six months, something completely unexpected happened,” Mark Harbers, a lawmaker who speaks on finance matters for the Liberals, said in the debate. “In record time, the country promised to do better and implemented a large package of reform measures.”

Rutte pledged in 2012 that Greece would not get a third bailout. Wilders, who seeks Dutch withdrawal from the European Union, put forward his no-confidence motion over Rutte’s support for the new program. The chamber rejected it by 120 votes to 13.

“If you plan to give money to the Greeks then you should not only be ashamed of yourself, you should also step down, leave and never come back,” Wilders told Rutte. “My proposal is to stop this nonsense. Not another 5 billion euros for the Greeks.”

Bank Recapitalization

Rutte and Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem informed lawmakers about the Greek deal on Wednesday. Dijsselbloem told the chamber that the recapitalization of Greek banks remains a major uncertainty.

In September 2012, when Rutte was seeking a second term as prime minister, he said in a campaign debate that he would block a third aid package for Greece and that he disagreed with the proposition everything needed to be done to keep the euro area from breaking up. “Countries themselves need to do everything possible to remain in the euro zone,” Rutte said at the time.

In July, when the deal with Greece was closed, Rutte said he was unhappy with the fact that he would have to break an electoral promise.