Party leaders to meet to discuss next steps after Dutch coalition talks flop

Arib meets party leaders after the March general election. Photo: Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal

MPs from all parties will meet parliamentary chairwoman Khadija Arib on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the next stage in the cabinet coalition process, following the collapse of talks on Monday evening.

Discussions between the two Liberal parties VVD and D66, the Christian Democrats and GroenLinks had been ongoing since the March 15 general election but fell apart over the subject of immigration.

According to one report, the real stumbling block was how to deal with future streams of migrants from Africa but the party leaders themselves have given little detail.

Chief negotiator Edith Schippers is expected to brief MPs on the collapse today or tomorrow, after which MPs will hold a debate.




The leaders of all four parties involved in the talks refused to blame any one party for the failure to reach agreement and all said the decision to call a halt was mutual.

Schippers told reporters on Monday evening that the differences in some policy areas had turned out to be too wide to breach. ‘Migration proved to be a bridge too far,’ she said. ‘We have not been able to reach a joint basic decision.’

Other policy areas such as climate change and income policy are also difficult subjects to reach agreement on, she said. ‘You have seen the election manifestos. In some areas the gap [between the parties] is just too wide,’ Schippers said.

Migration has been discussed several times in the 18 days of negotiations, the former health minister said, adding that ‘we’ve tried to do all we can to make this work.’

ChristenUnie

Commentators say the small progressive religious party ChristenUnie, which has five MPs, is likely to be invited to join the talks instead of GroenLinks.

However a coalition involving ChristenUnie would only have a majority of one seat in the lower house of parliament and the senate, which would make it vulnerable on controversial issues.

In addition, the party is left-leaning on immigration and refugee policy and does not agree with D66 on euthanasia and other ethical questions.

Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-immigration PVV said on Twitter that is pleased the talks had collapsed. ‘The PVV, as the second biggest party in parliament, is ready and willing to talk,’ he said.