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Dutch Liberal and Labour parties agree to coalition

THE HAGUE--Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's Liberal Party and the Labour Party have agreed a coalition deal, the parties said on Monday, paving the way for a pro-austerity, pro-European government to be sworn in as early as next week.

Rutte won the most seats in the Sept. 12 parliamentary election, which was held against the backdrop of the eurozone crisis, rising unemployment, lower housing prices and a stagnant economy.

The two party leaders have reached a deal far faster than expected, underlying the urgent need to form a government given the European crisis and fragile state of the Dutch economy.

Labour needs support from its members at a party conference set for Nov. 3 for the deal to be finalized. The agreement includes plans to cut state spending by a further 16 billion euros (US$21 billion) in the next four years, aiming to all but eliminate the budget deficit by 2017, newspapers reported last week.

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