Dutch lawmakers give majority support for Greek bailout package

AMSTERDAM Tue Dec 4, 2012 2:47pm EST

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch lawmakers on Tuesday approved the latest bailout for Greece which includes measures to cut its debt load to 124 percent of national output by 2020.

The approval was widely expected as Prime Minister Mark Rutte's Liberals and his coalition partner, Labour, have a parliamentary majority and both support the deal.

German lawmakers approved the latest bailout for Greece on Friday by a large majority.

"The Greeks have taken a lot of painful cuts and a lot of measures have been taken. That's why we support this extra package," Henk Nijboer of the Labour Party told parliament's finance commission.

"No one is sure exactly what the consequences of a Greek exit would be, what a disorderly departure would look like. It is good that Europe doesn't want to let it go that far."

Rutte, who was re-elected in September, had promised voters that the Netherlands would not give any more money to Greece.

His party backed the new deal warning that the alternative was far worse: it said it supported the new deal because it would not involve stumping up more money for Greece even if it did mean an effective loss in interest on Greek bonds.

Recent opinion polls show that both the Liberals and Labour have slumped in popularity since Rutte won the general election on September 12.

Both parties are pro-European Union, supporting euro zone bailouts in the past, and shortly after winning agreed to a new package of austerity measures to bring the Dutch deficit within European Union targets.

However, many Dutch voters are growing increasingly tired of cost-cutting at home and bailouts for troubled euro zone countries.

Bailout fatigue was voiced during Tuesday evening's debate by the anti-euro party of populist Geert Wilders.

"The Netherlands has once again opened the money tap to Greece, while the Dutch tap has been closed," said Tony van Dijck of the Freedom Party, referring to more than 40 billion euros in cuts by the Dutch government.

"The Greeks refuse to pay taxes and private investors are leaving the country, yet we continue to pump billions into this bottomless pit. We shouldn't be lending money to an addict," he said.

(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch and Sara Webb; editing by Ron Askew)