Dutch PM scrambles to save stranded govt. formation

Mark Rutte, January 2016
Mark Rutte, January 2016Photo: EU2016 NL / Wikimedia Commons

After weeks of "only" being the VVD leader at the government formation talks, current Prime Minister Mark Rutte now seems to be taking the lead in attempting to pull the negotiations out of their current impasse. On Wednesday he had one-on-one meetings with D66 leader Alexander Pechtold and CDA leader Sybrand Buma, AD reports.

The formation negotiations collapsed again on Tuesday after Pechtold announced that there was no way his D66 and ChristenUnie can govern together - thereby killing what Edith Schippers called the only feasible four-party coalition option of VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie that will have a majority in parliament and Senate. 

On Wednesday Rutte and Pechtold could be seen on a terrace in Scheveningen, apparently calmly discussing the situation and looking for alternative options for a next cabinet. Later on Wednesday afternoon, the current Prime Minsiter had a meeting with Buma in a VVD office.

It seems the formation process entered a next phase, despite the impasse - Rutte is taking the lead.

The government formation is centered on an "engine" of VVD, CDA and D66, with one or two other parties to give the coalition a majority in both Eerste- and Tweede Kamer. In the first round of negotations with GroenLinks, the talks collapsed on immigration. The SP is refusing to work with the VVD. The PvdA is refusing to be in a cabinet after the party lost 29 seats in the parliamentary election. And now that the D66 and ChristenUnie won't work together, options seem very limited.

But if anyone can get the politicians out of this situation, it is Rutte, according to AD. As Prime Minister he gained a reputation for his "Houdini-like" compromising skills.

For example, two years ago the VVD PvdA coalition was saved from the brink of collapse with a comprimise on bed-bath-bread shelter for undocumented migrants and failed asylum seekers. And more recently he managed to convince the Tweede Kamer and EU leaders to agree to an amended asssociation agreement with the Ukraine after the Dutch voted against it in a referendum. He also made numerous deals with opposition parties to get legislation through the Eerste Kamer, where the VVD-PvdA coalition does not have a majority. 

The party leaders are all meeting with negotiation mediator Edith Schippers again on Friday. On Tuesday a parliamentary debate is tentatively scheduled on the status of the formation.