Omtzigt puts policy before partnerships in coalition talks

Pieter Omtzigt after his talks with Ronald Plasterk. Photo: Koen van Weel ANP

Pieter Omtzigt, the former Christian Democrat MP whose new party Nieuw Sociaal Contract won 20 seats in last week’s election, has said he is not yet ready to start talks on forming a new cabinet. 

Omtzigt’s support is crucial in forming a right-wing coalition with the far-right PVV, together with the pro-countryside BBB and possibly the VVD. However, he told Ronald Plasterk, who has been charged with carrying out initial coalition talks, that he was not ready to discuss forming either a majority or a minority cabinet. 

Instead, he said, Plasterk should focus on what the policies of the parties are to deal with the “big problems facing the Netherlands”, which range he said “from bad governance to financial security and from migration to housing.”

Omtzigt also said that he still has issues with an alliance with the PVV and the party must first make it clear what leader Geert Wilders meant when he said some parts of the manifesto could be “put on ice”. 

Wilders told Nieuwsuur during the campaign he was prepared to put the policies that have defined his party for 25 years into cold storage, such as a ban on the Qur’an and closing Islamic schools.

Omtzigt has said repeatedly that he cannot support parts of Wilders’ policy which he considers to be undemocratic, and this remains a problem, he reiterated on Wednesday.

Plasterk spoke with leaders of the four biggest parties in parliament as the coalition negotiations finally started and will report back to MPs next week.

PVV leader Geert Wilders said he wanted to talk about a four-party coalition that included the VVD. However, he said, a minority government is not taboo. The four parties would have 88 seats between them in the 150-seat lower house of parliament.

VVD leader Dilan Yesilgöz told reporters after her talks with Plasterk that she wants to help put together a centre-right cabinet made up of the far-right PVV and new parties NSC and BBB, but as a silent partner, not a full member. “We are ready to start debating the contents,” she said.

Meanwhile, GroenLinks/PvdA leader Frans Timmermans told reporters he did not believe Wilders had softened his stance, despite his claims during the campaign. “Someone who has put something on ice is planning to keep it fresh and use it later,” he said.

Thank you for donating to

We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.

Make a donation