D66 leader Alexander Pechtold has proposed a five-way coalition with the Socialists and Labour as politicians look to restart talks to form the next Dutch government.
Pechtold admitted that the combination, which also includes the right-wing Liberal (VVD) and Christian Democrat (CDA) parties, was his ‘fourth choice’, but said it would give the cabinet a majority in both houses.
The liberal democrat D66 group has strong reservations about forming a coalition with the Christian Union (CU) because of their diametrically opposed stances on issues such as abortion and assisted suicide. During the election campaign CU leader Gert-Jan Segers attacked a D66 plan to allow people over the age of 75 to seek help ending their lives if they felt they were ‘finished’.
Lead negotiator Edith Schippers held exploratory talks with seven party leaders on Monday to gauge their views on possible coalitions. VVD, CDA and D66 spent 18 days negotiating with the left-wing green party GroenLinks but the talks broke down over immigration, climate change and closing the income gap.
The CU is seen as the most straightforward replacement, but would give the coalition only the smallest possible majority in both houses. Caretaker prime minister Mark Rutte has said he sees little difference between the party’s policies and GroenLinks on the crucial issues of immigration and green energy.
Rutte, who is expected to stay on as prime minister in the new government, said on Monday he favours a ‘four-party cabinet with a stable majority in both houses’, with either the CU, the Socialist Party or Labour (PvdA).
However, Socialist leader Emile Roemer last week said he would not go into a government led by the VVD and called instead for a six-party block headed by the Christian Democrats – a scenario CDA leader Sybrand Buma has already ruled out.
Buma also poured cold water on Pechtold’s proposed five-way deal. Emerging from his meeting with Schippers, he said a four-party majority cabinet was ‘complicated enough.’
Labour leader Lodewijk Asscher also reaffirmed on Monday that his party would play no part in the next government. The party formed the last cabinet with the VVD but slumped from 38 seats to nine in the election two months ago.
‘The election result was clear. We took a huge hit,’ Asscher wrote in an open letter to party members. He went on: ‘The inherent differences between our manifesto and those of the VVD, CDA and D66 are huge… It is an illusion that we could achieve more with this line-up.’