The coalition ruling The Hague city council has collapsed in a row over whether Richard de Mos and his party, Hart voor Den Haag (HvdH), should be included in the administration.
HvdH took the largest share of the vote and nine seats in last year’s local elections, but were excluded from the coalition negotiations because De Mos and his colleague Rachid Guernaoui were on trial for corruption.
After the pair were acquitted on all charges in April at the end of a four-year trial, De Mos called on the ruling parties to hold talks to allow HvdH to join the council executive.
The right-wing liberal VVD supported the idea, but ran into resistance from GroenLinks and the Labour party (PvdA), who ruled out any kind of co-operation, such as including HvdH in budget talks.
D66, the largest party in the ruling coalition, and the CDA agreed to hold talks with HvdH, as long as other opposition parties could be included.
Former medical care minister Bruno Bruins was brought in to mediate and said all 13 parties should hold exploratory talks as soon as possible, but was unable to broker a compromise.
Late on Thursday evening the VVD withdrew its support for the coalition and its two aldermen resigned. The remaining parties – GroenLinks, PvdA, D66 and CDA, do not have a majority of seats.
“For us it is unpalatable that other parties are not even prepared to canvas a potential co-operation,” VVD group leader Lotte van Basten Batenburg said in a written statement.
“We cannot abandon our democratic principles because parties are scared to lose their position of power.”
De Mos is now expected to head talks to form a new administration, which is likely to exclude PvdA and GroenLinks.
“We’re the biggest party, the winners of the elections. We want to take up the responsibility of governing and we’ll talk to anyone who wants to talk to us, but talks have to lead to something,” he said.
“Sadly two parties, GroenLinks and PvdA, shut the door on us and we couldn’t go any further.”
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