Talks on forming a new Dutch government collapse over immigration

The Dutch lower house of parliament.  Photo: Sisyfus via Wikimedia

Talks on forming a new Dutch government collapsed on Monday after chief negotiator Edith Schippers said the negotiations had reached stalemate over the issue of migration

The ruling VVD, fellow Liberal party D66, the Christian Democrats and left-wing greens GroenLinks have been in talks on forming a four-party coalition since the general election on March 15.

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.’

Reactions

Prime minister Mark Rutte said in a reaction that the decision to end the talks had been reached jointly. ‘I am very sorry,’ he told reporters. ‘We were serious in our efforts and we wanted to reach a deal but we did not manage it.’

‘I am very disappointed,’ said CDA leader Sybrand Buma. ‘The differences between us were too wide, particularly in terms of immigration.’

GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver thanked the other party leaders for their efforts over the past few weeks. ‘I am very sorry that we have not managed to reach a deal,’ he said. ‘All of us really tried to do so.’

Next steps

Schippers will now bring out a report about the failed negotiations and will recommend what should happen next.

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.

Insiders, however, expect the small religious party ChristenUnie to be brought in to replace GroenLinks at the negotiating table. However, ChristenUnie is also left-leaning on immigration and this is likely to pose a stumbling block as well, commentators said.