Dutch Coalition Talks Deadlocked as New Bid for Deal Is Rejected

  • PM’s Liberals, CDA, D66 and Christian Union won’t hold talks
  • Four parties are needed for majority in 150-seat lower house

Talks to form a new Dutch multiparty government reached an impasse after another attempt to start formal negotiations between four parties collapsed on Tuesday, 69 days after the March 15 election.

Lead negotiator Edith Schippers pushed for new discussions between Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Liberals, the Christian Democrats, the centrist D66 and the smaller Christian Union, saying it seemed the “only remaining serious option’’ after all other possibilities for a majority government were rejected by one or more parties.

Alexander Pechtold speaks to journalists, May 23.

Photographer: Bart Maat/AFP via Getty Images

“We came to the conclusion that we will not start formal negotiations,” D66 leader Alexander Pechtold told reporters in The Hague after preliminary talks with Schippers and Gert-Jan Segers of the Christian Union. The differences between the liberal, pro-European D66 and the more conservative Christian Union were too big to bridge.

The March 15 elections left the Dutch political landscape deeply divided, with 13 parties taking up seats in the 150-seats lower house, meaning at least four parties are needed to form a government with parliamentary majority. The four-way combination involving the Christian Union would have had 76 seats, giving it the narrowest possible majority.

The Dutch coalition talks were halted for over a week after a first round of negotiations between the Liberals, the Christian Democrats, D66 and the Greens failed last week over disagreement on immigration policy.

Rutte’s party placed first in the election, beating Geert Wilders’s anti-Islam Freedom Party into second. Even though Wilders is keen to take part in a coalition, Rutte and most other political leaders have excluded a tie-up with Wilders.

Forming a government has taken the Dutch an average of 72 days since the Second World War, though the record is 208 days.

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