Coalition speculation moves to the left

Speculation on possible government coalitions are in full swing as party leaders discuss Wednesday’s election outcome with Queen Beatrix today and tomorrow. No clear majority emerged from the elections and the process to establish a new government is expected long and complicated.

The ruling Christian Democrats won the most seats (41) but will need at least two coalition parties to form a cabinet. The most likely combinations are a CDA/Labour (32 seats) alliance with either the ChristenUnie (six seats) or the Socialist Party (biggest winner with 26 MPs in the 150-seat parliament).
CDA leader Jan Peter Balkenende is being coy about his coalition preferences but has told the media that he ‘sees possibilities’. Labour leader Wouter Bos, whose party remains the second biggest although it lost 10 seats on Wednesday, says it is up to the CDA and SP to take the initiative in forming a new government.
Meanwhile SP leader Jan Marijnissen is not over-enthusiastic about forming a coalition with the CDA. But he says he is prepared to discuss possibilities with Balkenende as long as the latter understands a new government must follow a much more social policy than the previous CDA-led administration.
André Rouvoet, leader of the other party in the running as coalition partner, the orthodox ChristenUnie (six MPs), has not made his position clear but has said that the overwhelming popularity of the SP cannot be ignored.
According to today’s Financieele Dagblad, Rouvoet has suggested a preference for a centre-left rather than a centre-right government. But he also pointed out that the step from a coalition with the free-market Liberals to the SP would be ‘a very big one’ for the CDA.
ChristenUnie’s rejection of gay marriage, abortion and euthanasia may also prove a stumbling block.

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