Four Dutch parties finally agree on forming coalition government after nearly seven months of talks

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 October, 2017, 11:02pm
UPDATED : Monday, 09 October, 2017, 11:01pm

The leaders of four Dutch parties agreed on Monday to a draft programme for a new centre-right coalition government after 208 days of tough negotiations. Led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte, it will probably push policies further to the right.

Centrist Democrats 66 leader Alexander Pechtold said that after years of austerity, the new government will reward voters with lower taxes.

“We are coming out of crisis, so we can invest, taxes can be lowered,” Pechtold told reporters.

Rutte is expected to officially unveil the programme on Tuesday along with the leaders of the Christian Democrats, the D66 party and a faith-based party, the Christian Union.

The leaders spent a final morning checking the agreement before heading to their parliamentary offices to present it to their parties’ lawmakers, who could still suggest minor changes. Such changes, if necessary, could set off yet a new round of bargaining between the parties.

The March 15 election gave the coalition a narrow one-seat majority in the 150-seat lower house of the Dutch parliament and ended Rutte’s alliance with the centre-left Labour Party.

“I am very happy,” said Rutte, who is in line to form his third ruling coalition. “Precisely on the day that this [government] formation is overtaking the longest previous formation we have ... a negotiators’ agreement.”

The four parties’ negotiators tried to hammer out an agreement that will offer something to all of their lawmakers.

“That is why we spent a lot of time on the content and I think that’s the reason that it’s a solid deal,” said Pechtold.

Gert-Jan Segers, leader of the Christian Union, which has only five seats in the lower house of parliament, said the negotiations involved a lot of give and take.

“So it’s not all good, but there are a number of points that are clearly recognisable for the Christian Union that I am very happy with,” he said. “This brings our ideals a step closer.”

Once the deal has been formally presented, Rutte will begin appointing ministers to his new administration. The coalition is expected to be finalised and sworn in later this month by the Dutch king.