Dutch Parties Finally Reach Deal to Form Government

Thu May 16 2024
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THE HAGUE, Netherlands: Six months after Geert Wilders won a stunning election victory, feuding politicians finally reached an agreement on a coalition government on Wednesday with the Dutch far-right leader will not be prime minister.

“We have a negotiators’ agreement,” said Wilders, who reluctantly agreed to give up his dream of running the European Union’s fifth-largest economy amid widespread concern over his anti-Islamic and anti-European views.

It was not immediately clear who would be prime minister to lead a right-wing coalition government to replace Mark Rutte, who is almost certain to be chosen as the new NATO secretary general.

“Discussions about the prime minister will take place later,” Wilders told reporters.

However, former education and interior minister Ronald Plasterk, who also played a key role in overseeing the initial talks, appears to be the leading contender.

Later Wednesday, all lawmakers for the four parties approved the deal, the details of which were not immediately available.

In March, the four parties agreed to seek a semi-technocratic government made up of 50 percent politicians and 50 percent foreign policy.

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The last time the Netherlands had such an “expert” government was in 1918, and it’s unclear how it will function more than 100 years later.

After marathon talks on Tuesday, Wilders said it would be a “historic day” if his far-right PVV Freedom Party took part in a Dutch government for the first time.

The far right has won elections across Europe but is struggling to translate votes into power as other parties refuse to cooperate with them.

Wilders, sometimes dubbed the “Dutch Trump,” has softened some of his political stances, but his election platform still called for bans on the Koran and mosques.

After winning the largest share of the vote in the election, Wilders was poised to become the country’s first far-right prime minister, but at least one of his coalition partners has threatened to torpedo him in that event.

“Don’t forget: one day I will become prime minister of the Netherlands. With the support of even more Dutch people,” Wilders stated after reluctantly stepping aside.

“If not tomorrow, then the day after tomorrow.”

It has become something of a tradition that Dutch governments take a long time to form.

Rutte’s last government was formed after 271 days.

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