Geert Wilders' coalition talks collapse

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Right-wing populist Geert Wilders is now almost certain not to feature in the next Dutch government after eight days of talks to try and form a coalition drew a blank.

Despite making the biggest gains in the election it now seems as though the Freedom Party, PVV, led by Mr Wilders will be heading for the opposition benches.

First talks were held with the centre-right liberal VVD party which won the most seats in the vote - but the two parties needed the support of a third party, the Christian Democrat CDA, to be able to form a majority.

This party refused to take part in talks until the PVV and VVD had ironed out differences.

Now the man leading the would-be coalition talks, senator Uri Rosenthal, has concluded that it is impossible to bridge the divide between the free-market liberal VVD, the right-wing Freedom Party (PVV) and the centre-right Christian Democrats. Senator Rosenthal told journalists, "a VVD, PVV and CDA majority cabinet is impossible".

PVV leader Geert Wilders says Christian Democrat leader Maxime Verhagen is responsible for the failure of the talks and accused him of sabotaging them by refusing to take part until Mr Wilders had reached an agreement with VVD leader Mark Rutte.

Mr Verhagen rejected the accusation and repeated his view that his party had no place at the negotiating table until the PVV and the VVD had reached an agreement. The two parties have wildly differing views on a number of issues, including economic austerity measures and ethnic registration.

"The Christian Democrats are simply pulling the plug," a grim-looking Geert Wilders told reporters after another session with liberal leader Mark Rutte and Senator Rosenthal. The Freedom Party leader had insisted on three-party negotiations from the outset, rather than the phased approach advocated by Mr Verhagen.

According to Mr Rutte, neither the Christian Democrats nor the Freedom Party could be blamed for the failure of the talks. "Mr Wilders took a constructive approach," he said, adding that the two leaders saw "sufficient common ground for a coalition with the Christian Democrats".

The proposed tripartite coalition would have had a wafer-thin one seat majority in the 150-seat Lower House and would also face a hostile Senate. The Freedom Party has no seats in the upper house.

Senator Rosenthal has already been to see Queen Beatrix to inform her of the progress, or lack thereof, in forming a new government. After his meeting with the Queen, he refused to comment further. Political insiders in the Hague expect Senator Rosenthal to make an announcement on Friday. 

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