Party leaders critical in budget debate

Leaders of the opposition parties in the Netherlands reacted critically to both the National Budget for next year and the King's Budget Day speech. In the General Debate in parliament on Tuesday, the party leaders called it "bragging" and a "good news show", reports.

The National Budget and King's Speech were presented on Budget Day on Tuesday. Both emphasized that the Netherlands is doing better than a few years ago. The Budget increases purchasing power for 90 percent of the population next year. And extra money is going to healthcare, education, the police and judiciary and defense.

Yet the opposition parties aren't satisfied. According to D66 leader Alexander Pechtold, the government is too focused on the previous policy. CDA leader Sybrand Buma denounced the government's stance that the country is doing well, while people in the country are faced with polarization and uncertainty.

PVV leader Geert Wilders called the King's speech "just a fairy tale". "Allegedly the Netherlands is doing well, but the reality is totally different", he said. "People see that the country is broken. Look at healthcare, the tax increase, the asylum reception, the unrest in Zaandam. We are losing our country."

SP leader Emile Roemer is concerned about the "growing income inequality". Jesse Klaver of GroenLinks agrees. "The public finances are good, but society is divided. The inequality is increasing."

The General Debate will span two days, Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday the party leaders are given the chance to have their say. Prime Minister Mark Rutte will respond to the comments on Thursday.