Talks on forming a new coalition government in the Netherlands will move into a new phase later on Monday when scout Ronald Plasterk reports back to parliament.
Plasterk has held several rounds of talks with the leaders of the four parties seen as the front runners to form the new cabinet – the far-right PVV, right-wing Liberal VVD, pro-countryside BBB and NSC, the new party formed by former CDA MP Pieter Omtzigt.
Sources close to the talks told Dutch media at the weekend that Plasterk is likely to announce an interim round of discussions to look at three key areas of contention currently dividing the parties.
The first problem area is the constitution. Omtzigt and, to a lesser extent, VVD leader Dilan Yesilgöz, have both expressed concern about some of PVV leader Geert Wilder’s policies, such as closing all Islamic schools and banning the Koran, which breach constitutional rights.
Wilders has said he is prepared to put his anti-Islam policies into “cold storage”, but the other parties have pressed for more firm guarantees.
There are also major divisions between the parties on key policy issues. For example, the PVV wants to abolish the healthcare own risk element of €385, which the others argue would be too expensive. The PVV also wants to build new housing in the countryside, which the BBB opposes.
The third area in which agreement is a long way off focuses on the form the next coalition should take.
Wilders favours a majority cabinet, while Omtzigt would like to see a cabinet of experts who may or may not have political affiliations. The VVD has said it will not join a cabinet, given its electoral losses, but is prepared to prop up a minority right wing government from the sidelines.
Plasterk is due to publish his report later on Monday, after which it will be debated by the new-look lower house of parliament, where the PVV has 37 of the 150 seats.
Meanwhile PVV voters on RTL Nieuws’ research panel say that they are prepared to let some key parts of the party manifesto go to ensure a right-wing cabinet takes office.
The PVV’s anti-Islam policies and a referendum on Nexit are top of the items PVV are willing to let go. Abolishing the senate and ending military support for Ukraine can also be taken off the negotiating table.
Top of their list for inclusion in a coalition agreement are deporting illegal immigrants, stopping all refugees from coming to the country, scrapping rules to reduce nitrogen emissions and, by a majority of one percentage point, banning headscarves in government buildings.
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