Dutch cabinet formation talks collapse on renewable energy, refugee policies

Edith Schippers (Photo: Rijksoverheid.nl/Wikimedia Commonst)Edith Schippers (Photo: Rijksoverheid.nl/Wikimedia Commonst)

After 61 days of negotiations, talks to form a new Dutch ruling cabinet fell apart on Monday, according to a press release from Edith Schippers. "It has not worked out; the talks have ended," Schippers said at the beginning of a press conference announcing the news.

Nearly nine weeks after the election, the parties differences were simply too great, she added. Attempts at forming a policy to handle migrants to the Netherlands proved to be the last straw. The parties were also far apart on issues related to climate change, energy sustainability and income she said.

The parties working on a deal included the conservative VVD, right-of-center Christian party CDA, centrist D66 and leftist green party GroenLinks. Prime Minister Mark Rutte is in the VVD, and as the largest party they were able to select Schippers as mediator. Schippers, also of the VVD, is the outgoing health minister.

Each of the party leaders stopped to speak with reporters following the announcement. Rutte said it was unfortunate that everyone at the table decided to end the conversation.

 "There are parties on both sides of the divide, and we were not able to get any closer together," GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver said.

The leaders of all four parties agreed that the talks should stop, added D66 leader Alexander Pechtold. Walking into this morning's meeting he was still focused on similarities instead of differences, and he said he did not expect the conversation to end.

"You can be assured that everything has been tried to overcome these differences," said Sybrand Buma, the CDA leader.

Schippers will now submit a report to the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament. Schippers did not rule out the possibility of the four parties making another attempt at forming a cabinet. The Tweede Kamer will help determine how things move forward, which could lead to the four parties re-entering talks at a later date.

Both Rutte and Buma said they did not want to predict what would happen, but would wait to see Schippers' report.

The outgoing health minister has served as the mediator between the four political parties involved since the day after the March 15 general election. Formal talks began two weeks later.