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Dutch right-wing parties reach agreement on coalition

Coalition talks in the Netherlands appear to have resulted in right-wing government supported by the far right. Negotiators reached agreement on Tuesday evening on the details of a coalition agreement between the free-market liberal VVD and Christian Democrats (CDA). A second agreement on parliamentary support by the Freedom Party has also been finalised. Tuesday was 111th day of the formation. Earlier in the evening, VVD leader Mark Rutte said the new cabinet will be named Rutte-Verhagen, acknowledging CDA leader Maxime Verhagen's role in the coalition.

Negotiators spent hours on the wording of the documents as the tone is particularly important to the Christian Democrats. VVD leader Mark Rutte announced that the three parties had reached agreement. CDA leader Maxime Verhagen declined to quote a motto for the new cabinet. He said he had faith that he could persuade his party to back the deal. Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders called it a historic moment. He said “who would have thought that the Freedom Party would have a huge amount of influence in government a couple of years ago.”  Mark Rutte is set to become the first VVD prime minister since 1918.

Minority government
The  minority VVD-Christian Democrat government will rely on parliamentary support from the far-right Freedom Party for a majority in the Lower House. On Wednesday, two agreements will be presented to the three parliamentary parties and the negotiators will report back to coalition broker Ivo Opstelten on Thursday. The details of the agreements will also be made public on Thursday.

The Christian Democrat Party is holding a special congress on Saturday to seek approval from its members for the deal. All eyes will then be on the CDA, as many members of the party have expressed grave concerns about the cooperation with Geert Wilders' anti-Islam Freedom Party. Christian Democrat leader Maxime Verhagen has faced broadsides from a string of party elder statesmen, and two dissident CDA MPs threaten the coalition's flimsy one-seat majority. To complicate matters further, on Saturday Mr Wilders will be giving an anti-Islam speech in Berlin.

Right-wing
Negotiations for a right-wing cabinet headed by VVD leader Mark Rutte have been underway since 5 August, after the failure of talks on a possible 'purple' cabinet, comprising the 'blue' VVD and three 'red' left-of-centre parties.

The talks for a rightwing cabinet were broken off in early September after the Freedom Party pulled out doubting CDA resolve to see the negotiations through. A letter by CDA co-negotiator Ab Klink voicing his reservations had been leaked to the press. After the resignation of Mr Klink, the Freedom Party agreed to come back to the negotiating table.

Ill-fated adventure
Earlier in the day, Labour Party leader Job Cohen has called the prospect of a right-wing government with support from the Freedom Party “the worst conceivable outcome of the coalition talks”. Socialist Party leader Emile Roemer says he is concerned about the measures in the agreements. Democrat D66 leader Alexander Pechtold called the development “an ill-fated adventure”.  

It was in the Freedom Party's interests to conclude the talks this week because as of Monday, Mr Wilders is due to appear in court in Amsterdam for a total of six days (over the course of a fortnight) on charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims.

 

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This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011 Dutch government’s decided to cut funding and shift RNW in 2013 from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW’s current activities can be found at http://www.rnw.org/about-rnw