CDA-SP-PvdA coalition a non-starter (update)

The next Dutch government will not include both the Socialist Party (SP) and the Christian Democrats, Rein Jan Hoekstra, the man charged with putting a new coalition government together, said at a news conference late Monday afternoon. Hoekstra said the differences between the Christian Democrats (CDA) and SP were to numerous, too fundamental and too serious to be bridged.

The CDA emerged as the biggest party at last month’s general election but the SP gained the most seats. Hoekstra began his task by investigating the possibility of a left-leaning coalition between the CDA, PvdA (Labour) and SP.
‘Marijnissen and I got on well, but it is all about the credibility of the parties involved,’ said CDA leader Jan Peter Balkenende yesterday.
‘I am critical about everything Balkenende is proud of,’ SP leader Jan Marijnissen says in today’s Volkskrant.
Labour leader Wouter Bos said he was very disappointed. Marijnissen had missed a ‘golden opportunity,’ he said. ‘This was the only chance for the SP to form a strong left-wing block in a majority coalition. To walk away before we got down to serious negotiations is the easy way out.’
Among the issues which divided the SP and CDA were the EU, Dutch involvement in Afghanistan, income policy, international alliances, defence spending and corporate taxation.
A slim majority (53%) of Labour voters do not want their party to take part in a coalition which excludes the SP, according to a poll by Maurice de Hond on Tuesday. But 77% of CDA voters said there was no point in continuing talks with the SP, the poll said.
The pull-out of the SP means Hoekstra must now try to piece together a new coalition. Orthodox religious party ChristenUnie – which is left-leaning on some issues – is the next logical choice of coalition partner. But its opposition to abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage may also prove a stumbling block. The left-wing greens GroenLinks are another candidate.
Hoekstra will now talk again to all the party leaders about the next step in the coalition formation process.

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