A two-thirds majority in parliament has voted in favour of the European Stability Mechanism, a permanent bailout fund which is part of an EU fiscal stability pact.
A total of 100 MPs from the conservative VVD, the Christian democratic CDA, the Labour Party, the democrat party D66 and the Green Left party voted to join the ESM. MPs from the Freedom Party, Socialist Party, the Christian Union, the small christian SGP party, the Animal Rights Party and independent MP Hero Brinkman all voted against.
The Dutch contribution to the ESM was approved with the same ratio of votes in favour and against. The Netherlands will make a 4.5 billion deposit into the ESM and act as guarantor for another 35 billion euros. The ESM will be a permanent bailout fund for Eurozone countries in financial distress. It will have an effective lending capacity of 500 billion euros.
Parliament rejected a motion of no-confidence in Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager submitted by Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders. The motion won the support of just 24 out of the 150 MPs. Mr Wilders feels the finance minister has squandered Dutch interests by agreeing to the ESM and the Dutch contribution to it.
Over the past week, the Freedom Party leader made several failed attempts to persuade parliament to postpone the ESM debate and vote until after a court ruling had been handed down regarding his request for an injunction barring the Dutch state from contributing to the bailout fund.
Mr Wilders wants the court to block what he has described as “an unlawful act”. He claims that by agreeing to the new pact, the Netherlands will be handing over more power to Brussels. He says it is not right that a caretaker government should make such an important decision without taking voters’ wishes into account. The Freedom Party leader wants a new parliament to debate the issue after the general election scheduled for 12 September.
The ESM is to start operating on 1 July and will gradually replace the EFSF, the temporary emergency fund created earlier. The EFSF was used to bail out Greece, Portugal and Ireland when they were no longer able to borrow money on the international capital market.
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide