Dutch PM under fire for his positive outlook

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Opposition parties react angrily to prime minister’s comments on how the country is performing well both economically and socially.

22 May 2008

THE NETHERLANDS - Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende thinks the Netherlands has too negative an image of itself. He made the observation on Accountability Day, the day on which the cabinet reports on the results of its actions in the previous year.

He said wages are high compared to other countries, unemployment is at an historic low and there is much work being done on social cohesion and on durability.

The prime minister added that the initial results of the cabinet's policies are already visible. He cited measures to combat the worst effects of traffic jams, the appearance of the first extra police officers on the streets and new tax advantages for environmentally friendly measures.

The opposition reacted angrily to the prime minister's comments.

Socialist Party leader Jan Marijnissen believes many people have good reasons to complain and says they are worried about the future of their children and the public sector.

VVD leader Mark Rutte said he thought Balkenende should explain his comments to hard-working Dutch people who see their purchasing power dropping and spend hours stuck in traffic jams.

D66 leader Alexander Pechtold said the prime minister's remarks were patronising and offered no contribution to an open discussion.

[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]

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