Rutte turns to liberals and centre-right
Dutch premier Mark Rutte has targeted a tie-up with other liberal and centre-right parties in order to form a government, as populist Geert Wilders insisted he should not be overlooked.—
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has set out his preferences for a tie-up with other liberal and centre-right parties to form a government, as populist challenger Geert Wilders insisted he should not be overlooked after last week’s election result.
Other political leaders also backed a broadly centrist coalition during preliminary talks yesterday. Negotiations are nevertheless set to take months.
Dutch voters gave Mr Rutte’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) a surprisingly large win over rival parties including Mr Wilders’ anti Islam Party for Freedom (PVV).
The election result, which will give Mr Rutte the first chance to form a new administration, was hailed by moderate political leaders across Europe as a rejection of populism.
Mr Rutte, whose VVD will hold 33 seats in the 150-seat parliament, said that “given the election results” he would prefer a coalition that included the liberal D66 and the centre-right Christian Democratic Appeal. Each won 19seats.
After governing for five years without a majority in the Dutch Senate, the prime minister said he wanted a “stable majority government with support in both houses”, meaning that a fourth party would be required.
During the campaign, all major parties pledged not to form a coalition with Mr Wilders’ party, which took 20 seats. But Mr Wilders said yesterday it would be “undemocratic” if the PVV were not taken into consideration. “You cannot ignore 1.3m voters in advance,” he said.
Support for large parties fragmented in the election and only the VVD won more than 20 per cent of the vote, making negotiations even more complex than normal.
Yesterday the leaders of all 13 parties individually met a “scout” appointed by parliament to explore potential coalition options. VVD, D66 and CDA have a combined 71 seats, just short of the 76 required for an absolute majority.
One potential fourth party in a coalition is Green Left, the standout performer during last week’s vote, jumping from four seats in 2012 to 14 seats.
A four-way coalition including Green Left would enjoy a nine-seat majority. Other options for a four-party government include the socialists, the Christian Union and even Labour, in coalition with Mr Rutte since 2012, which fell from 38 seats to nine.
“From a VVD perspective, [the potential fourth party] all have pros and cons ,” said the prime minister.
Jesse Klaver, the charismatic 30-yearold leader of Green Left, faces the biggest dilemma. After shepherding the party to a historic result, the once fringe party has the chance to join a government for the first time. But throughout the campaign, and again yesterday, Mr Klaver said he would prefer to form a government without Mr Rut te’ scent re right party .“We prefer a Christian, progressive coalition ,” said Mr Kl aver.
Such a coalition is possible, but unlikely, since it would require six parties from across the political spectrum.
Speaking in Brussels, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister, suggested the coalition talks could potentially last until next year. Mr Dijsselbloem’s Labour party is set to leave government after its drubbing, raising the question of how long he can continue as president of the eurogroup of finance ministers, an EU role that makes him a key deal maker on euro area bail outs.
But Mr Dijsselbloem said it was “too early to say” if there would even be a new Dutch finance minister before his term as eurogroup president ended in January.
Wilders said it would be ‘undemocratic’ if the PVV were not taken into consideration