Dutch coalition talks collapse, Omtzigt calls a halt over money

Omtzigt arriving for cabinet talks last week. Photo: Robin Utrecht ANP

NSC leader Pieter Omtzigt has reportedly said there is no point in holding any more talks on forming a majority right-wing government and that his party will not join such an alliance.

The main stumbling block appears to be the government finances, Dutch media said on Tuesday evening. Some 20 cabinet briefings with confidential information about the state of ministry funding have “shocked” the party leader, RTL correspondent Fons Lambie said.

RTL quotes a note by Omtzigt to party members in which he says the NSC could not make any promises to the people while knowing in advance that they could not become reality. “You do not build a secure existence on sand,” he is quoted as saying. 

Financial experts had warned the negotiators earlier that government spending would need to be cut by €17 billion.

The talks were already said last week by the main participants to be at a “crucial” and “difficult” phase. On Tuesday, the four party leaders got together without lead negotiator Ronald Plasterk in an effort to clear the air after a weekend of social media sneers. 

According to NOS, the party has closed the door on forming a majority cabinet with the PVV, VVD and pro-countryside BBB but Omtzigt is still prepared to support a minority cabinet from the sidelines. He would also be prepared to support a broader alliance of parties.

His doubts about working with Geert Wilders and the far right PVV were well known. Nevertheless, the leaders of the other three parties involved in the talks said they had been taken totally by surprise by Omtzigt’s decision.

“Unbelievably disappointing,” said Wilders on social media. “The Netherlands wants this cabinet and Pieter Omtzigt throws in the towel even though we were in talks today. I don’t understand it at all.”

VVD leader Dilan Yesilgöz said she hoped that the four parties could get together soon “to find out what is going on”.

Plasterk, who is due to ipresent his report on the eight weeks of negotiations to parliament on Monday, has invited all four party leaders to a meeting on Wednesday evening.

More to follow

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