GroenLinks leader defends decision to break off Dutch cabinet talks

Jesse Klaver was the big winner at the general election. Photo: Merlijn Doomernik

GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver has defended his decision to break off talks on forming a new government for a second time, saying immigration was not the only stumbling block.

New talks between the VVD, CDA, D66 and GroenLinks broke down on Monday, with the other party leaders accusing Klaver of refusing to compromise and leaving negotiators without a clear way forward.

In an interview with the Volkskrant, Klaver said that climate change and socio-economic policy were also areas in which he saw little room for negotiation. ‘For example, early on in the talks, we discussed being more flexible about the banking bonus rules so that post-Brexit banks might come here. That is exactly what we do not want,’ he said.

‘You want to make people feel happier with their lot again and the first thing you do is give bankers more generous bonuses? We don’t want that sort of banking boys and girls.’

Climate change had not been discussed in detail, but Klaver said he did not see any signs that the Paris agreement would be reached.

Asked by the Volkskrant how anyone could be expected to form a coalition if they won’t deviate from their principles, Klaver said an agreement on returning economic migrants to Africa is doable.

‘But the other parties wanted to send everyone back and make them apply for asylum in Africa,’ he said. ‘They would not budge an inch.’

The plans were written down by chief negotiator Herman Tjeenk Willink on paper, he said. ‘But we are talking about how things work out in practice. The EU has deemed Turkey as safe country, one where refugees can be sent back… but refugee children are being forced to work. They can’t go to school as agreed. Refugees from Syria have been shot at. A country is not safe just because you say so on paper.’

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