It's not a good time to be an incumbent politician in the economically fragile eurozone. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the soon-to-be-former Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will tell you firsthand. Rutte handed his and his cabinet's resignation to Queen Beatrix today after failing to reach agreement to reduce the country's spending, or as we've grown accustomed to calling it, "austerity measures."
"The Queen is considering the resignation, but has asked all ministers and deputy ministers to continue to do everything that is necessary in the interests of the kingdom," read a statement picked up by The Telegraph today. You see, Rutte was tasked with trying to find out how to cut 16 billion euros off the budget, which would help ensure that the country would keep its AAA status (The Telegraph mentions that there are only four countries in the eurozone who still have AAA status among the three main credit rating agencies). But talks and plans stalled since proposed plans like the "slight raise of Value-Added Tax (VAT), a freeze on civil servants' wages and a cut in spending in both the health and development aid sectors," didn't jibe with Rutte's political opponents.
Meanwhile, in France, President Nicolas Sarkozy is still smarting from a first-round loss to Francois Hollande and a stronger-than-expected turn out from the far right--a response which stems from, you guessed it, economic woes. "Despite enacting significant reforms in his five-year mandate, Mr Sarkozy has struggled to fight unemployment – now at a record 10 million. He is perceived as having been too generous to France’s wealthiest individuals, in a nation that harbours deep suspicion about the rich," reports The Telegraph's Henry Samuel.
And what does the richest country in Europe have to say about its biggest ally? "The high score [of the Front National] is alarming but I expect this will be ironed out more or less in the second round," said Merkel's deputy spokesman Georg Streiter in a report by Dow Jones' Andrea Thomas.