After eight weeks of talks, Pieter Omtzigt has said he will not form a majority coalition government with the far right PVV, the pro-countryside BBB and the right wing Liberal party VVD. What options are now open?
The PVV, VVD and BBB talk on and form a minority cabinet
Although minority cabinets are often talked about as an option they rarely happen in practice. The last was in 2010 when the CDA and VVD formed a minority cabinet with the support of Geert Wilders and the PVV.
Omtzigt said early on that a minority cabinet which works with different parties to get a majority was an option he supported, and VVD leader Dilan Yesilgöz said immediately after the election that her party would not join a cabinet but would be prepared to support a right wing minority one.
So a minority cabinet with NSC support could still be an option. It will be up to Wilders, as leader of the biggest party in parliament, to take the lead. But, as the NRC points out, it will be difficult for the PVV, given its politics, to find enough qualified people willing to act as ministers on its behalf.
The PVV, VVD, NSC and BBB start talks again after a short pause
Insiders say it is unlikely that Omtzigt would rejoin the talks, given his opposition to the formation of a traditional majority cabinet. In addition, the talks between the four parties so far have focused on constitutional issues, given some policies backed by the PVV would require a change in the constitution, and the parties have not discussed strategy in any detail.
So given no other party with more than one or two MPs would be prepared to work with the PVV and ensure a majority, Wilders’ dream of leading a majority cabinet is very likely to be over.
BBB leader Caroline van der Plas’ failure to condemn threats made against prominent NSC MP Harm Holman by radical farmers will not have helped either.
Another form of cabinet
Omtzigt has not refused to talk at all and has, since the beginning, expressed an interest in the concept of an “extraparliamentary” cabinet with independent ministers who are not tied to a particular party and may come from outside the political system.
The other parties currently involved in the talks do not support the idea, which makes it unlikely.
A new attempt based on a centre-left alliance (GL-PvdA, VVD, NSC en D66)
Looked at purely from the point of view of the number of seats, a combination of the VVD, NSC, Liberal democratic party D66 and the GroenLinks-PvdA alliance would have a majority in parliament with 79 out of 150 seats.
But the VVD has already ruled out working together with the GL-PvdA combine and dislikes D66, and Omtzigt has not mentioned it as an option either. The VVD has also stressed the results of the election which do show a swing to the right and say that it favours a right-leaning cabinet.
Omzigt said on Tuesday evening that new elections were not a realistic option and other parties have also made similar comments.
Wilders is currently riding even higher than his current 37 seats in parliament in the polls and the other parties on the right face losing support. But Wilders would also have to convince his new supporters that he is not the reason for the talks’ collapse to hold on to his leading position.
When a first round of coalition talks has failed after previous elections, there has always been a second round with a new negotiation leader.
Parliament will debate the collapse of the current talks and the various options next Wednesday, two days after Ronald Plasterk has presented his report on the talks to date.
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