Far-right Dutch election winner Wilders wants to be prime minister, promises to respect constitution #Farright #Dutch #election #winner #Wilders #prime #minister #promises #respect #constitution

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders, whose party swept to a shock victory in last month’s Dutch general election, said Wednesday he wants to be prime minister for “all Netherlanders,” and pledged that he will ensure his policies adhere to the country’s constitution.

Wilders’ comments during a debate in parliament were aimed at easing fears among potential coalition partners about his strident anti-Islam rhetoric and plans including banning mosques, Islamic schools and the Quran.

After preliminary talks with party leaders over the last two weeks, Ronald Plasterk, an official appointed by the Dutch parliament to investigate possible ruling coalitions said Monday that Wilders should open negotiations with three other parties on forming a new government.

Some potential coalition partners, and in particular Pieter Omtzigt who leads the reformist New Social Contract party that won 20 seats at the Nov. 22 election, have expressed fears that some of Wilders’ election pledges breach the Dutch constitution that enshrines liberties including the freedom of religion.

“Sometimes I will have to withdraw proposals and I will do that,” Wilders said. “I will show the Netherlands, the legislature, Mr. Otzigt’s party — anybody who wants to hear it — that we will adapt our rules to the constitution and bring our proposals in line with it.”

His words did not convince opposition lawmakers.

Frans Timmermans, the former European Union climate czar who now leads a center-left alliance in parliament, told Wilders: “I consider your ideas a threat to the democratic rule of law.”

Wilders’ party won 37 seats in the 150-seat lower house of the Dutch parliament election, making it the biggest party and putting the veteran anti-Islam lawmaker in line to lead talks on forming the next ruling coalition.

Plasterk, the “scout” who conducted preliminary talks with leaders, said that Wilders should hold coalition talks with New Social Contract, the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, or VVD, which was led by outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and the Farmer Citizen Movement, or BBB.

He also acknowledged concerns about some of Wilders’ policies, saying that the first stage of the coalition talks should be to investigate if the leaders can agree “on a common baseline for guaranteeing the constitution, fundamental rights and the democratic rule of law.”

Wilders said Wednesday he wants Plasterk, a former government minister with the center-left Labor Party, to lead the next round of talks.


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