Outgoing Netherlands PM’s party rules out Geert Wilders coalition | Netherlands #Outgoing #Netherlands #PMs #party #rules #Geert #Wilders #coalition #Netherlands

The party of the Netherlands’ outgoing prime minister, Mark Rutte, has ruled out forming a government with the anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders, as coalition talks began following this week’s shock general election result.

Their decision removes the first building block of a potential partnership government with Wilders’ Freedom party (PVV), which caused a political earthquake after winning more seats than any other party in Wednesday’s vote.

The conservatives of Rutte’s People’s party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), led by Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius, however, indicated it might support Wilders on some votes in parliament.

VVD’s decision came as the leader of the country’s liberal party warned people not to be fooled by any “Mother Teresa” act by Wilders in coalition negotiations.

The election result gives Wilders the first choice in forming a coalition and the potential to succeed Rutte as prime minister. However, with 37 seats out of 150, he cannot form a government alone and will have to convince potential coalition partners that he can rule the country after declaring he would not support “Islamic schools, Qur’ans and mosques”.

The Dutch finance minister, Sigrid Kaag, who is leaving as leader of her liberal Democrats 66 (D66) party this summer, citing the “hate, intimidation and threats” she faced, warned voters not to be fooled by Wilders’ pre-election attempt to come across as less extreme.

“He can pretend to be Mother Teresa, but he still has a very long way to go,” Kaag said before the cabinet meeting.

Ahead of the formation talks, Kaag said that Wilders’ apparent softening of his public position on migrant policies did not take away from 20 years of “accusations, demonising others, discrimination and the exclusion of population groups”.

Yeşilgöz-Zegerius told the Dutch broadcaster NOS before the opening of coalition talks, that after 13 years of Rutte as prime minister and VVD’s loss of seats in the election “another role was appropriate” for the party.

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She added, however, that her party could “support constructive proposals” in a Wilders coalition, indicating he could count on the party in some key votes.

The decline by VVD to participate in a coalition could also be seen as political posturing, with parties with significant numbers of seats often playing hard to get after elections.

Wilder’s party confounded all predictions on Wednesday by winning 37 seats out of 150, far ahead of both VVD (on 24 seats) and the joint Labour/Green alliance led by the former European environment commissioner Frans Timmermans.

On Friday, Wilders said he was “very disappointed” that the VVD did not want to participate in a new cabinet but said it was a “bright spot” that Yeşilgöz might support him on some key areas.

The retreat of VVD from the coalition dialogue puts the spotlight on Timmermans’ GroenLinks-PvdA alliance and Pieter Omtzigt, whose newly founded party, the New Social Contract (NSC), won 20 seats.

Omtzigt has not made his position clear before the government formation process but has previously said he was willing to “step over his own shadow” in talks as he felt politicians elected had the responsibility to form a government.

However, he has also previously said he thought Wilders “will not leave the rule of law intact”.

Timmermans had not revealed his hand either but has said he suspected his party would “end up in opposition”, raising the question of whether a strong coalition of parties can be established at all.

The Dutch are no strangers to long talks to build a coalition. Last time, the process took a record-breaking 298 days.

Should Wilders’ efforts fail, other parties could try to build a more centrist coalition without him. New elections are the final option if no coalition deal can be reached.

Among smaller parties, the Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB) said it would be willing to govern with Wilders. Its seven seats in the lower house of parliament would not be needed for a majority there, but it holds a large number of seats in the senate, which has the power to block legislation.

#Outgoing #Netherlands #PMs #party #rules #Geert #Wilders #coalition #Netherlands

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