The small Christian party ChristenUnie is to join formal negotiations to form a new Dutch coalition government after all and serious talks will begin next week.
ChristenUnie is the only option left to ensure a majority government and D66 leader Alexander Pechtold had earlier objected to the party because of their differences on ethical issues.
However, on Wednesday evening, Pechtold said that he wants to ‘look seriously’ at a cabinet including the ChristenUnie. ‘No prevaricating, let’s get down to negotiations straight away,’ Pechtold said. ‘If I begin something, I go all out to make it a success’.
ChristenUnie’s chief Gert-Jan Segers responded positively to Pechtold’s olive branch. ‘It is always good to look each other in the eye for a moment,’ he told reporters.
Commentators say negotiator Herman Tjeenk Willink may submit his final report to parliament by the end of this week. His task was to identify a coalition with real potential and that he has now done.
However, there are still wide differences between the parties which need to be bridged.
‘ChristenUnie is just as left wing on issues like climate, asylum and income politics as GroenLinks [which broke off talks earlier]’, Trouw said.
In terms of refugee policy, ChristenUnie is far away from the restrictions that the VVD and Christian Democrats want to impose, Trouw said. And while the party is not opposed in principle to making agreements on returning refugees with African countries, as GroenLinks is, it wants assurances on good local provisions.
In the Netherlands itself, the party opposes the way refugee families with school-going children are continually moved around, and favours offering basic support to rejected asylum seekers who cannot leave the country.
However, the party takes a more Eurosceptic line than GroenLinks and that could prove an additional headache for D66, Trouw said.
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