Talks to form a new city council administration in Rotterdam have got under way without the largest party, Leefbaar Rotterdam, after three other groups ruled out a partnership with the populist right-wing faction.
A coalition of six parties headed by the VVD will now negotiate a deal to govern the city, 12 weeks after local elections were held. The VVD group said jettisoning Leefbaar Rotterdam was the only way to overcome an ‘impasse’ in the city’s administration.
‘We thought that Leefbaar Rotterdam, the largest party and one that is an ally for us in many respects, should have been part of [the coalition],’ said VVD leader Vincent Karremans. ‘But after several weeks of to-ing and fro-ing we have to conclude that there is no prospect of a majority coalition with Leefbaar.’
The VVD, which has five seats, is aiming to lead a left-right alliance with Labour (PvdA), D66 and Green Left (GL), all of which also have five councillors, as well as the two Christian Democrats and one representative of the Christian parties CU and SGP.
That gives the six-strong combination the smallest possible majority with 23 out of 45 seats. Leefbaar, with 11 councillors, will be the largest opposition group.
D66 said after the election that it would not work with Leefbaar unless the party formally distanced itself from Thierry Baudet’s Forum for Democracy (FvD), after Baudet refused to disown a party member who claimed there was a link between race and IQ. The party also said it would not enter into a coalition with the VVD unless either Labour or GL were included.
Leebaar leader Joost Eerdmans said later on Monday that he considers it a scandal that the party has been excluded. Leefbaar won 21% of the vote in the March local elections.
The new Rotterdam administration will have 10 aldermen, double the current total, although one may be part time. By contrast Amsterdam, with a much larger population, has eight.
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