Six months after the parliamentary elections that took place on March 17, 2021, the Netherlands still does not have a full-fledged government. Reinforced by his success in this election which saw his People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) come out on top with 34 seats out of the 150 in the Chamber of Deputies, the liberal Mark Rutte, in power for more than ten years, logically had to set up its fourth coalition. Now he has two options: a minority government or a return to the polls.
The outgoing coalition, which brought together the VVD, the Christian Democratic Party, the Protestant Christen Unie and the pro-European centrists of D 66, could have continued on its way, having 3 more seats than the majority. But the centrists quickly announced their refusal to preserve the alliance with Christen Unie, a party that was too conservative for their tastes. Hence the beginning of very long negotiations during which symbols and personal rivalries weighed more than ideological differences.
Six personalities (five “explorers” and one “informant”) have tried so far, under the control of the Parliament which replaced the king in this role, to unravel a situation of rare complexity. The decline of the traditional parties – liberal, socialist and Christian democrat – which together represent only 58 seats out of 150, explains these difficulties.
Three radical right-wing parties, including that of the populist Geert Wilders, have a purely protesting role, like various small groups (in defense of the elderly, the Turkish community or animals). The left is reduced to the minimum (9 seats for the Socialists, 8 for the Greens of GroenLinks) but, this time, concluded an unprecedented pact to present a united front.
Critical text for the Rutte team
This hypothesis appeals very little to Mr. Rutte and arouses the allergy of Wopke Hoekstra, Christian Democrat leader and outgoing finance minister. Sigrid Kaag, Minister of Foreign Affairs and leader of D66, a party presented as the other winner of the March election with its 24 seats, pleads, on the other hand, for their entry into the government.
A new “informant”, Johan Remkes, a former liberal minister and veteran of Dutch politics, was appointed in early September. This liberal official, renowned for his grip and, writes By Volkskrant, “The only one capable of calling Mark Rutte to order”, was to bring together the parties of the outgoing team over the weekend. But its mission is made a little more difficult following the events of Thursday, September 16 in the Second Chamber.
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