World Bulletin/News Desk
Dutch voters are split over whether the government should stick to its EU budget target as the country heads for an election on September 12 dominated by the euro sovereign debt crisis and austerity measures, an opinion poll published on Sunday showed.
The poll, and another published at the weekend, showed Prime Minister Mark Rutte's pro-euro Liberal Party (VVD) and the far-left Socialist Party (SP) vying for lead position to form a coalition government in one of the few euro states to retain a full set of top AAA credit ratings. In a Maurice de Hond poll published on Sunday, 48 percent of those polled said the budget deficit could be higher next year than the EU's deficit ceiling, and 48 percent agreed that the
economy would suffer too much if the target was kept.
However, 58 percent of those polled said they thought it was irresponsible of Socialist leader Emile Roemer, who some polls show could become the next prime minister, to say the Netherlands would refuse to pay an EU penalty if it did not comply with the budget limit.
The poll put the Socialists ahead with 36 seats in the 150-seat parliament, followed by the Liberals with 32. An Ipsos
poll on Friday evening showed Rutte's party winning 35 seats, ahead of the Socialists with 29.
Whichever party wins the most seats would need to form a coalition from four or five parties given the country's
fractured political landscape. As campaigning gained momentum last week, politicians clashed over the Netherlands' commitment to meet EU rules by bringing its budget deficit down to below 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by next year.
The Dutch deficit is expected to be 4.2 percent of GDP in 2012, but Rutte's care-taker government has promised it will fall to 2.9 percent, below the EU target, by a deadline of 2013.
Rutte's coalition collapsed in April when his ally, Geert Wilders, refused to support billions of euros of budget cuts to
meet the EU target. Within days of the collapse, Rutte's care-taker government won support from three opposition parties for the budget measures.
Ecuador, Egypt, Pakistan, Venezuela, Belize, Cuba, Cyprus, Greece, Jamaica and Ukraine are all on the verge of a default, according to Moody's ratings.
A World Trade Organisation pact to ease worldwide customs rules collapsed late on Thursday over India's demands for concessions on agricultural stockpiling.
India's new nationalist government has insisted that a permanent agreement on its subsidised food stockpiling must be in place at the same time as the trade facilitation deal
Chemicals firm LyondellBasell has emerged as the mystery American buyer of Kurdish crude oil this year, but said it will not be buying any more
Some EU member states remain nervous about the impact on their own fragile economies. The sanctions deal was agreed only after initial proposals were narrowed.
Bankers in Singapore say Russians looking for a new Cyprus have come to the wrong place.
The default could get much messier and take longer to clear up if creditors force an "acceleration" for early payment on their bonds.
The ban came a day after the European Union and United States imposed their first sanctions aimed at hitting broad sectors of the Russian economy
Russia called new U.S. sanctions "destructive and short-sighted"
While the default will obviously hurt the economy, it will not be as severe as in 2001, economists say
The Czechs, who supported the action, have been against sweeping sanctions, worried about trade relations with Russia
The trade program has been criticized for disproportionately benefiting certain industries and a handful of countries, including Nigeria, South Africa and Angola.
The United Kalavrvta tanker, carrying some 1 million barrels of crude worth about $100 million, arrived off the coast of Texas on Saturday but has yet to unload its disputed cargo.
The uncertainty comes at a bad time for the 18 countries in the euro zone, whose economy is already in the doldrums.
"Kalashnikov regrets that consumers are faced with such a problem," said spokeswoman Yekaterina Boni.
Cairo and Khartoum had earlier accepted a proposal by Addis Ababa to hold the talks in Sudan in the third week of August.