Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers tendered the resignation of his government Wednesday after a seven-hour, late-night emergency parliamentary debate on how to finance a national environmental plan.
Lubbers informed Queen Beatrix of his decision during an early morning audience before leaving Holland for West Germany to mediate between Bonn, Washington and London in a dispute on the modernization of short-range nuclear weapons in Europe.Lubbers refused to answer questions while leaving the royal palace and it was not clear if the monarch had accepted his resignation. A palace spokesman said the queen would make a statement on the resignation after consulting leaders of the nine parties in Parliament.
Lubbers had announced he would tender the resignation of his Liberal-Christian Democrat coalition during a debate late Tuesday and shortly before a scheduled confidence vote brought by his junior coalition partner.
"I am not bitter," Lubbers said, after explaining he had been unable to forge a compromise on the environmental issue.
Political observers said Lubbers would likely announce extraordinary general elections for September, eight months ahead of schedule. The present government would continue in office as a caretaker administration until elections can be held.
The crisis arose after Joris Voorhoeve, leader of the liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, known by its Dutch acronym VVD, threatened to pull out of the coalition unless Lubbers' party dropped a plan to curtail special tax breaks for car owners.
Lubbers, a Christian Democrat, had proposed that the government eliminate tax rebates for car owners and use the additional revenue to finance an ambitious environmental improvement plan.
The environmental plan is aimed at reducing pollution in Holland by 70 percent by the year 2010.
Although both coalition partners support a proposed $3.5 billion appropriation for the environmental plan, they disagreed on where the money should come from. The VVD wants the plan to be financed with revenues generated by economic growth.