Four Dutch Parties Reach Draft Coalition Deal

  • Draft agreement moves Rutte one step closer to new government
  • Parties will share report on agreement with Zalm on Tuesday

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte moved a step closer to forming his third government, more than six months after general elections in March.

A draft pact between four parties -- Rutte’s Liberals, the Christian Democrats, the progressive centrist D66 and the smaller Christian Union -- was announced in a statement from chief negotiator Gerrit Zalm in The Hague on Monday. The accord will now be discussed by the parties separately, and Zalm will receive their responses on Tuesday morning.

Mark Rutte on Oct. 9.

Photographer: Jerry Lampen/AFP via Getty Images

Assuming the deal is acceptable to all sides, the next step will be a debate in the lower house of parliament. Zalm, a former Liberal finance minister and also former chief executive officer at ABN Amro Group NV, will then step down, with Rutte being named as “formateur” with the task of putting together a team of ministers from the four parties.

Once the cabinet is ready, King Willem-Alexander will formally swear in the cabinet, something that Dutch media have reported could happen in the week of Oct. 23, a moment traditionally marked by a photocall for the ministers and the monarch on the steps of one of the royal palaces in The Hague.

Rutte’s party, known as the VVD in Dutch, has 33 lawmakers following the March 15 elections, making it the largest in the 150-seat lower house, while the CDA and D66 each have 19 and the Christian Union five -- giving the four parties 76 of the 150 seats in the lower house, the smallest possible majority.

While the March elections left the Dutch political landscape splintered, Rutte will resume full political power at a time when the country’s economy is motoring along nicely -- government or no government. In the second quarter, gross domestic product 1.5 percent compared with the three previous months, beating economist estimates.

After several failed attempts, the four parties that now plan to form what will be known as Rutte III represent the only remaining option for creating a government with majority support in both houses of the legislature.

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