Tjeenk Willink to step down as four parties make new attempt to form government

Tjeenk Willink to step down as four parties make new attempt to form government

Former Labour party senator Herman Tjeenk Willink says he wants to step down from the coalition negotiations as a new round of talks begins to form a government. Four parties – the Liberals (VVD), Christian Democrats (CDA), D66 and the Christian Union (CU) – will sit round the negotiating table on Monday to decide if they can put together a coalition agreement. The CU was previously rejected as a coalition partner by D66 because of their strong differences on ethical issues such as euthanasia. Tjeenk Willink is due to report to Parliament on Tuesday on his efforts to put together a coalition following the election on March 15, which saw 13 parties elected to Parliament. If the four parties do a deal they will have a majority of just two in both the lower house and one in the senate. NOS said the 75-year-old Tjeenk Willink felt his job was done after whittling down the possible coalition options to one. The CU was invited back to the table after attempts to form a coalition with the green party GroenLinks broke down over the issue of immigration and asylum. Caretaker prime minister Mark Rutte said he was 'looking forward to the talks' after the four party leaders went out to dinner together last week. Rutte's VVD party is said to favour former finance minister Gerrit Zalm as Tjeenk Willink's replacement. The remaining nine party leaders have been invited to discuss the outcome of the preliminary talks with Tjeenk Willink before he concludes his report. PVV leader Geert Wilders has declined the invitation. Wilders clashed with the senator during the formation of the government in 2010, accusing him of lacking impartiality and favouring a coalition that would have excluded his party. In the end Rutte formed a minority government with the CDA supported by PVV votes, which lasted less than 18 months.  More >

Thousands of votes wrongly counted

Tjeenk Willink to step down as four parties make new attempt to form government Thousands of votes cast in this year's Parliamentary election were counted for the wrong party or not at all, an independent study has found. Analysis by Politieke Academie, which specialises in elections and campaigns, uncovered 14,000 discrepancies between the official results and counts carried out by the 388 municipal authorities. By far the largest number of wrongly attributed votes were in Boxmeer, North Brabant, where 7600 votes were omitted from the official total. Only votes for the VVD, PvdA, PVV and Socialist Party were sent from the count. The Christian Democrats have raised questions in Parliament about the missing votes. MP Hanke Bruins Slot said it was important to ensure that 'our electoral process is working and in particular that it can be relied on'. Boxmeer is part of the Den Bosch electoral district, where a number of other issues were identified, such as 1100 votes for the progressive liberal D66 party that were not included in the results from Bergeijk. No advantage Elsewhere, the votes cast for Thierry Baudet's Forum voor Democratie party in Goes were given to Jacques Monasch's Nieuwe Wegen. Baudet won two seats in Parliament while Monasch fell short of the threshold for a seat. Although the election outcome was close and the 150 seats shared between 13 parties, Politieke Academie said no party gained or lost seats because of the mistakes. The interior ministry has said that the election result is final and irrevocable. Politieke Academie said that the decision to count all votes by hand because of fears of hacking had contributed to the problem, along with a lack of checking mechanisms.  More >

Turkish minister drops legal action

Tjeenk Willink to step down as four parties make new attempt to form government Turkey's families minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya has dropped her legal action against her 'expulsion' from the Netherlands after she was barred from attending a campaign rally in Rotterdam. De Telegraaf reported that the government in The Hague authorised national counter-terrorism co-ordinator Dick Schoof to declare Kaya an 'undesirable alien', but the minister left the country on her own volition before the measure could be enforced. Kaya was at the centre of a stand-off in the early hours of March 12 when she tried to attend a rally in Rotterdam in support of Recep Tayyip Erdogan's campaign to extend his presidential powers in a referendum. She was barred from entering the Turkish consulate during a stand-off lasting several hours, during which a crowd of Erdogan's supporters massed outside the building waving Turkish flags. Kaya was eventually given a police escort to the German border. Earlier in the week the Dutch government had withdrawn the landing rights for foreign affairs minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu, who was due to address a rally of Dutch Turks. Turkey retaliated by closing diplomatic posts and ordering the Dutch ambassador to stay out of Ankara. Sources quoted in the Telegraaf said Schoof gave a written order to Rotterdam's police chief, Fred Akerboom, on behalf of the cabinet stating that Kaya was not welcome in the country. The document was to be used as a last resort if the minister refused to go voluntarily. In the immediate aftermath of the row Kaya vowed to take legal action against the Dutch state because it had failed to explain why she was required to leave the country. However, sources told the Telegraaf that the case had been dropped because she had not formally been expelled.  More >

Denk loses €60,000 claim against Simons

Tjeenk Willink to step down as four parties make new attempt to form government Political party Denk has lost a €60,000 lawsuit against former candidate Sylvana Simons and been ordered to pay her €4,000 for unfair dismissal. Simons, who had been chosen as Denk's lead candidate for the elections on March 15, quit the party just before Christmas to found her own group, Artikel 1. The founders of Denk, former Labour (PvdA) MPs Tunahan Kuzu and Selçuk Öztürk, demanded compensation from Simons for breaching a secrecy clause in her contract six times, at €10,000 per incident. The former TV presenter, who was employed three days a week as a member of Denk's communications team, criticised the party in an interview in the Volkskrant on December 24 in which she announced the launch of Artikel 1. But a court ruled that her comments could not be viewed as a 'straightforward breach' of her contractual obligations because she was engaged 'in political and public debate'. 'She is free as a former employee to speak critically of the ideas and decisions made by Denk,' the ruling said. The court also found that the secrecy clause in her contract was 'unusually vaguely worded'. Simons was sacked by Denk in January, but the court said she had been unfairly dismissed and ordered the party to pay her €4,000 in compensation and holiday pay. Simons's colleague Ian van der Kooye, who left Denk at the same time to co-found Artikel 1, was also cleared of breaching the secrecy clause, but was ordered to compensate the party for leaving before he had worked his notice period. Denk won three seats in Parliament in last month's election, while Artikel 1 failed to return an MP.  More >

Schippers to continue coalition talks

Schippers ‘to stay on to lead coalition talks’ Departing health minister Edith Schippers is set to continue in her role co-ordinating talks to form a new Dutch government, sources have told the Telegraaf. Schippers held a series of meetings with all 13 party leaders last week in her role as 'verkenner', which required her to sound out potential coalition partners. The results of those discussions are due to be debated in Parliament on Monday. Four parties have agreed to enter into coalition talks later this week: prime minister Mark Rutte's VVD, the Christian Democrats, D66 and the left-wing environmentalist party GroenLinks. Schippers, a party colleague of Rutte's and health minister since 2010, is understood to be the only 'informateur' proposed so far to co-ordinate the negotiations. She has ruled herself out of a seat in the new cabinet. Rutte has said he is looking to form a majority government, but strong ideological differences between his right-wing Liberal party and GroenLinks are expected to lead to difficult, drawn-out negotiations. GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver has said the proposed four-party combination is 'far from ideal', while Rutte acknowledged that the differences are 'considerable'. Support for GroenLinks involvement comes mainly from D66 leader Alexander Pechtold, who would prefer another progressive party in the coalition to the alternative of a partnership with the Christian Union (CU). Figures released last week showing that the Dutch budget ran a €3bn surplus, which is likely to slow down the negotiations as the parties are under no pressure to come up with a quick solution. In 2012 the VVD and Labour (PvdA) produced a coalition agreement inside two months, partly because of the need to find billions of euros of austerity measures during a recession. However, GroenLinks will want to avoid a similar fate to the PvdA, which haemorrhaged support during its term of office and retained just nine out of 38 seats in last month's election.  More >