Sixty-one days after the general election, and after 18 days of talks, the four parties trying to form a coalition government have called it a day. But what has been said behind closed doors? Information is scarce, and the papers don’t have much to go on.
Have the coalition talks really collapsed, or have they simply reached an impasse? The NRC in its editorial says we should be told.
‘In the inexhaustable esperanto of the formation: has the door merely been closed or was it locked?’ The difference between the two will determine what happens next, the paper writes. ‘Taking a step back in order to get back together at a later stage is not an unknown variation in the Dutch formation game,’ the paper points out.
But what really irks the NRC is the lack of transparency about what went wrong. ‘No one involved is telling what is was about the immigration policy that caused the rift, or indeed the points on which agreement could be reached,’ the paper states.
‘That maybe a understandable from a negotiation point of view but from a democratic point of view it is completely reprehensible. The parties who were given the trust of the voters on March 15 should be accountable for what has been happening behind the closed doors of the Binnenhof for the last six weeks.’
In the Telegraaf, political commentator Wouter de Winther agrees the talks may not be over as long as the parties are not publicly slagging each other off. But if the negotiations start anew it is very likely that ChristenUnie will be taking GroenLinks’ seat at the table, with Labour ‘a serious candidate’ as well, he argues.
‘The Labour party is still licking the wounds it sustained during the battering it received during the last elections and has said it will join the opposition. But some prominent social democrats have expressed doubts about this firm stance,’ De Winther writes.
According to an analysis in Trouw the weeks spent negotiating have not been wasted, no matter who joins the talks. Somewhat biblically the paper writes ‘In the seventh week, much hard work was done.’.
In spite of the lack of information ‘which made it look like nothing much was happening, there is now a large pile of proposals, figures and recommendations,’ the paper states. ‘The parliamentary parties are informed and involved. That is almost a hundred people in and around the Binnenhof who know how close the four parties had come, or not, to forming a cabinet comprised of VVD, CDA, D66 and GroenLinks. They are the ones who know what the building blocks for a government accord are.’
Far from a waste of hard work, ‘many of the documents can be put right back on the table in the next round,’ Trouw writes.
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