Outgoing liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte will address the Dutch parliament on Tuesday to explain why his government crashed in the wake of failed austerity talks with a far-right ally.
Rutte, who has been silent since Saturday, should take the podium at 1200 GMT when he will detail the circumstances and consequences of his cabinet's resignation -- handed to Queen Beatrix on Monday -- after 18 months in power.
The country now faces the prospect of fresh elections later this year, the date of which will be debated in Tuesday's parliamentary session.
The crisis was triggered Saturday when Rutte's far-right parliamentary ally, the Freedom Party led by Geert Wilders, walked out of budget negotiations.
The talks were designed to ensure that Europe's fifth-largest economy brings itself back within eurozone deficit targets.
But Wilders, an arch eurosceptic best known for campaigning against Islam, said his supporters "could not live up to the demands" and accused Brussels of "stealing money from the wallets of the poor."
Although not part of the ruling coalition, Wilders' party had effectively guaranteed the government's majority for the last 18 months by supporting it in parliament. That arrangement now lies in tatters.
Rutte's liberal VVD party, its coalition partner the Christian Democrats and Wilders' Freedom Party had been negotiating on a near-daily basis, in private, for seven weeks but divisions were made public when Wilders walked out.
Rutte, the CDA's Maxime Verhagen and Wilders had held talks at the premier's official Catshuis residence in a bid to agree on how to cut 16 billion euros (U$21 billion) from the budget, which stood at 4.7 percent of GDP in 2011.
The EU's deficit ceiling is three percent of GDP.
Despite the crisis, Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager remained optimistic on Monday that a proposed austerity package would be approved and presented to the European Commission, which has set an April 30 deadline.
The package "is solid, it is sustainable and it is also for the long term a good budget," De Jager said.
"We will soon talk to the Lower House over the proposals and I foresee we will find a majority for it so we can send it to Brussels."
Parliament is to discuss the issue Tuesday afternoon -- as well as the much-discussed possible date for new elections.
"We want an election as soon as possible, as it is the only way to get the Netherlands out of this impasse and make a fresh start," Labour Party (PvdA) leader Diederik Samsom told the Christian daily Trouw newspaper on Tuesday.
Labour, the largest opposition party in parliament with 30 seats, as well as Rutte's VVD party favour early polls.
But the Electoral Council, responsible for organising the vote, said it believed September 5 the earliest realistic date for new elections.
The final decision however, rest with the outgoing Dutch cabinet.
Wilders too said he favoured early polls, but a survey conducted Sunday by a national polling agency gave his PVV party only 19 seats, five less than in the 2010 elections.© ANP/AFP