Thursday, 20 August 2015 - 10:22
Greece bailout approved in tense Dutch lower house debate
The third bailout package for Greece was approved by the lower house of parliament after a tense debate on Wednesday. A 90 seat majority, comprised of the VVD, PvdA, D66 and two members of the Group Kuzu/Ozturk decided that the government may say "yes" to the new 86 billion euro loan in Brussels. The Tweede Kamer returned from their recess on Wednesday especially to discuss the new aid package. A large part of the opposition was against more support for Greece, NOS reports. The PVV is fundamentally opposed to any new aid bailouts. GroenLinks and the SP are willing to help Greece, but do not approved of the current package because the many cuts will not be good for the Greek population. The CDA feels that the Greeks have refused to follow European rules too often and the euro can only remain strong if a final warning really is a final warning. According to NOS, one VVD Parliamentarian - Joost Taverne - sided with the opposition and voted against without explaining his decision. Party leader Halbe Zijlstra said that Taverne's negative vote "perhaps nicely shows the struggle of the VVD faction". Taverne has been critical of new aid to Athens from the start and his vote against did not come as a surprise. A large part of the debate revolved around Prime Minister Mark Rutte's credibility, as the VVD voting for the new aid package means that Rutte has broken his 2012 election promise that there will be "no more money to the Greeks", according to NRC's live blog of the debate. CDA leader Sybrand Buma wanted to know from the Prime Minister whether he regrets breaking this promise. "It is extremely annoying and very unpleasant that this promise proved unsustainable", Rutte responded. According to the Prime Minister, the context has changed in the time since he made the promise and in 2012 there was no mention of a third package. He also said that can not guarantee that a fourth aid package won't eventually be necessary. The Tweede Kamer also voted on a number of motions during the debate. PVV leader Geert Wilders filed a motion of no confidence against the Prime Minister, which is why the whole Kamer had to return from recess for this debate and not only those on the European and Finance committees. This motion failed, with only the PVV and parliamentarian Louis Bontes voting for. The VVD also did not vote for a motion by D66 leader Alexander Pechtold to support the third bailout for Greece. According to Rutte, this motion was unnecessary because a formal "yes" vote from the Kamer is not necessary for the government to agree to the third aid package. The VVD agreed and found the D66 motion unnecessary. According to NOS, the opposition found this strange and accused the VVD of not wanting to express their opinion.