The leader of Christian party ChristenUnie, which is taking part in talks on forming a new Dutch government, has reacted angrily to reports that the four parties have reached a deal on controversial ethical issues.
The AD reported on Monday morning that the Liberal parties D66 and VVD and Christian parties CDA and ChristenUnie have agreed not to press on with calls for changes in the euthanasia law which would allow the very frail elderly to end their lives if they feel they are complete.
D66 is very much in favour of such legislation, but has now agreed to commission extra research into the plan, the AD said. This would involve assessing ‘if and in what circumstances’ the current legislation is inadequate, the paper, which has seen the draft document, says.
ChristenUnie is opposed to any widening of the rules on euthanasia and if there is a deal, it is likely to cause major disquiet among the party’s supporters.
A second controversial issue is that of increasing research using human embryos, which is also opposed by the ChristenUnie. According to the AD, a compromise has been reached here which would allow more research.
ChristenUnie Gert-Jan Segers told reporters that he had ‘read’ the reports but that ‘there is no agreement’. He went on to describe the newspaper article as ‘extremely damaging’ to the formation.
Prime minister and VVD leader Mark Rutte declined to comment on the reports. ‘I am sticking to the position I have always taken [about talking about the formation process]. I am not going to say anything.’
Chief negotiator Gerrit Zalm told the NRC: ‘Something has been in the papers which should not have been. It is very irritating.’
The NRC said that if the AD report is accurate, it would appear that D66 has agreed not to make an issue about relaxing the right to die rules in return for ChristenUnie agreeing to wider use of embryos in research.