90 days on, a majority cabinet is still the aim, negotiator says

The Dutch parliamentary complex in The Hague. Photo: DutchNews.nl

Cabinet negotiator Herman Tjeenk Willink said on Thursday he intended to press ahead with efforts to create a majority coalition in the Netherlands, despite set backs earlier this week.

Talks between the VVD, CDA, D66 and GroenLinks broke down on Monday, putting the negotiations back to square one. ‘Just by looking at the numbers, you don’t get a stable cabinet,’ Tjeenk Willink told a news conference.

However, the insistence of all the big parties that they wanted a majority cabinet will require them to give way on some issues, Tjeenk Willink said. ‘What do they want?’ he said. ‘You can have one or the other, but you can’t have it both ways.’

The SP, for example, have refused to talk to the VVD, D66 won’t form an alliance with D66 because of divisions on ethical issues and the Labour party says its electoral losses rule it out of government. All the main parties have ruled out talking to the anti-Islam PVV, which came second in the March vote.

The former Labour politican asked both VVD leader Mark Rutte and CDA leader Sybrand Buma to right down their objections to working with the PVV. This, he said, would enable him to get a handle on the concrete differences between the parties.

In his letter, Rutte said he had three main reasons for excluding the PVV from the talks.

Liberal principles

Firstly, Wilders had increasingly deviated from the liberal principles guiding the Netherlands by insulting and belittling minorities and wanted to place limits on freedom of religion by banning the Koran and closing mosques.

Secondly Wilders had made a number of statements undermining the constitutional democracy by calling both parliament and judges fake. ‘The VVD cannot rule with a party that undermines institutions,’ he said.

Thirdly, Wilders has shown in the past that he cannot be relied on to take responsibility, he said, referring to the way Wilders pulled the plug on the previous coalition government with the VVD and CDA.


CDA leader Sybrand Buma said in his letter that Wilders had done nothing since that incident to restore trust.

In addition, his proposals have become more radical and his statements about Islam and Muslims have become ruder, Buma said. In the three months since the election, Wilders has done nothing to restore faith in the party and the insults have continued to flow.

Tjeenk Willink will talk to other party leaders, including D66’s Alexander Pechtold later on Thursday to assess what steps he should take next.