Dutch PM understands why cabinet scores badly with the public

Prime Minister Mark Rutte understands why his cabinet scores badly with the Dutch public, he said during the second day of the Budget Debate in response to an Ipsos study that showed the government gets an "insufficient" grade of only 5.3. While the economy is recovering, the average person in the Netherlands isn't yet noticing in their wallet that the financial crisis is over, he said, NU.nl reports.

This is the second day of the debate on the government's National Budget for 2017 and King Willem-Alexander's Budget Day speech. Today Prime Minister Mark Rutte is answering questions from the party leaders and addressing their concerns. On Wednesday, the first day of the debate, the party leaders had a chance to have their say. While the debate is officially about the budget, in practice it is being used as the first large election debate, in the run-up to the elections in March next year.

PVV leader Geert Wilders thinks the government's poor score is justified, because Rutte is blind to what's happening in society. "You live in a parallel society", Wilders said in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, on Thursday. According to him, people aren't worried about "one percent more purchasing power", they are worried about safety, immigration and Islam.

Rutte shot back that Wilders thrives on negativity and pessimism. "A large silent majority in this country wants to progress and turns away from pessimism and negativity. As that brings us nothing."

To that the CDA and D66 responded that Rutte himself is responsible for the pessimism. D66 leader Alexander Pechtold pointed out what impact Rutte's words can have. "Credibility begins with language", he said. The failed promises that everyone will get a thousand euros and not a penny more will be paid to the Greeks, definitely did not contribute to the Prime Minister's credibility. Added to that, Pechtold said, the VVD formed a government coalition with the PvdA in no time at all, while Rutte painted the PvdA as the biggest danger to the Netherlands in the 2012 campaign.

The Prime Minster responded that forming a government with the PvdA so quickly was a necessity. "It was against the national interest not to govern with the PvdA", he said. Other parties forced the VVD and PvdA to sit down and talk for the first time, and given the financial crisis, Rutte saw no alternative than to get a government ready as quickly as possible. "My job is all about one thing: taking responsibility in difficult times."