BUDGET: public upbeat on economy, government

19th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

19 September 2006, AMSTERDAM — The Dutch public has more confidence in the economy and government than was the case in 2005.

19 September 2006

AMSTERDAM — The Dutch public has more confidence in the economy and government than was the case in 2005.

While 45 percent were hopeful of an upturn in 2005, the figure is now 76 percent, according to an opinion poll published on Prinsjesdag, Budget Day in the Netherlands.

For the second year running pollster Maurice de Hond sampled public sentiment ahead of the presentation of the Budget by Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm.

Last year 54 percent of the respondents believed the economy would perform better under a different cabinet, just 42 percent feel the same way now.

The biggest optimists are people who voted for the Christian Democrat (CDA) and Liberal (VVD) coalition allies in 2003. Supporters of the left-leaning opposition parties Labour (PvdA), Socialists and GroenLinks are less enthusiastic.

Almost half of the respondents (45 percent) expect an increase in purchasing power in the coming year. In 2005 only 20 percent expected to have more to spend during 2006.

The opinion poll gives Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's coalition government a boost ahead of the general election on 22 November. Some sweeteners in Tuesday's Budget will do no harm to the government's chances of re-election either.

But the jury is still out on Balkenende and his ministers. De Hond said 41 percent believe the harsh reforms implemented by the government in the last few years had a positive effect, yet 45 percent do not.

The public is also in two minds about Balkenende's norms and values campaign. On the one hand, 56 percent now appreciate it as opposed to 42 percent last year. A majority, on the other hand, still believe it has had little or no effect.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news

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