Five weeks to form a cabinet, but still no prime minister

Richard van Zwol shakes hands with Geert Wilders after the debate. Photo: Robin Utrecht ANP

The next stage in the process to finalise a right-wing cabinet in the Netherlands has kicked off, with formateur Richard van Zwol being given five weeks to finalise a ministerial team.

Normally, the prospective prime minister is charged with putting names to ministries, but Van Zwol, who was one of the two negotiators in the last phase, has been asked to continue in the role, given the absence of a PM.

Geert Wilders, whose far right PVV emerged as the biggest in the November general election, said during Wednesday’s debate that talks on finding a new prime minister would also begin on Thursday, following the decision by Ronald Plasterk to step back.

On Wednesday, MPs debated the 26-page coalition agreement which had been worked out between the four parties over the past few weeks. Opposition parties were particularly scathing about aspects of the plans – particularly reduction in refugee numbers which may be legally impossible.

During the debate VVD leader Dilan Yesilgöz admitted that the decision to scrap legislation to spread refugees around the country could lead to people sleeping outdoors in the summer months. She was also criticised for agreeing to form a government with the PVV in the first place. “We are not defined by who we work with,” she said in reply.

Meanwhile, BBB leader Caroline van der Plas faced heavy fire for the new coalition’s decision to scrap a €15 billion fund to help modernise farming. But she argued the cash was mainly to buy out farmers and “farmers don’t want to stop”, she said. She wants Brussels to make an exception for Dutch farmers from strict rules on nitrogen-based pollution.

Experts have said that too is unlikely to happen.

NSC leader Pieter Omtzigt, who has made good governance central to his support of the new alliance, was questioned about recent comments made by Wilders and another PVV MP which appear to go against his call for decency in public life.

Wilders again called criticial journalists scum, while PVV MP Raymond de Roon said during a debate last week that Palestinians are a “fake people”

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