* Coalition parties to discuss unpopular health cost hikes
* Reopening talks unlikely to cause government collapse
* But could mark start of political infighting
AMSTERDAM, Nov 9 The freshly-installed Dutch
government will re-open coalition talks to address concerns
about healthcare cost increases, an unpopular austerity policy,
media reported Friday.
The decision to break open a coalition agreement is not
likely to cause a government collapse but, coming just four days
after the cabinet was sworn in, it is not an auspicious start
for the politicians who had promised stability.
The development highlights the challenges facing Liberal
Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his Labour coalition partners as
they seek nearly 16 billion euros ($20 billion) of budget cuts
that will hit the spending power of more than half of Dutch
The right-of-centre Liberals and left-of-centre Labour will
re-negotiate the plan to raise healthcare premiums paid by
citizens, Labour leader Diederik Samsom was quoted by national
broadcaster NOS as saying.
He said the broad outlines of the government programme,
including fiscal targets, would remain unaffected.
Parliament had been due to debate the new government's
programme on Tuesday. "They'll have to be fast. They'll try to
fix it before then," said Paul Bovend'Eert, professor at Radboud
University. The parties are expected to negotiate through the
"When you make such a bad start it can be the beginning of
all kinds of arguments," he said.
One of the most contested parts of the coalition deal was an
increase in healthcare premiums that would have raised costs by
hundreds of euros per month for people earning more than 70,000
euros ($89,100), a move that was unpopular with large parts of
the Liberal party.
The spending cuts are needed to bring the budget deficit in
line with European Union requirements.
($1 = 0.7857 euros)
(Reporting By Anthony Deutsch and Thomas Escritt; Editing by