Fmr. Labour leaders call on party to join govt. formation talks

With the government formation talks reaching a complete stalemate over the past weeks, pressure is mounting on the Labour party to join talks with the VVD, CDA and D66. A number of former prominent PvdA members are also joining the call. "This is the moment for Lodewijk Asscher to step on board", former PvdA minister Willem Vermeend said to AD. "There is only one solution for the PvdA: be part of a cabinet. But Asscher doesn't seem to realize this."

Shortly after the elections in March, during which the PvdA lost a massive 29 seats in parliament, a vast majority of PvdA members voted that the party must not again be the junior party in a cabinet. But now that the formation negotiations have been stuck for about two weeks, more and more people think that the PvdA should reconsider. According to a poll Maurice de Hond published on Sunday, 60 percent of PvdA voters want the party to talk to the VVD, CDA and D66.

According to Vermeend, everyone understands that the PvdA must step up in the interest of the Netherlands. "Someone has to do it. And for the PvdA it is an opportunity to profile itself. As a leader of a small opposition party, you are no longer invited by any TV channels, young voters will soon no longer know him. With 9 seats you're simply not an important factor. No proposal will be accepted. While as government party- even if you're the smallest of four - you can mean something."

Vermeend is not the only PvdA member that thinks the party should join the formation talks. Former party chairmen Michiel van Hulten has been calling for this for weeks. According to him, the PvdA owes it to its remaining voters to at least go and see what can be achieved. Former campaign leader Dig Istha expressed similar sentiments - parties are elected to take responsibility, not to be in the opposition.

On Friday, in his umpteenth meeting with negotiation mediator Edith Schippers, PvdA leader Lodewijk Asscher again said his party is not available in the government formation. After losing so much support in the parliamentary election, he feels its time for other parties to take the lead. "Increasingly the question arises whether the PvdA should not take part after all. Often with a call on 'responsibility for the country'. We took that responsibility over the past years. But the [election] results don't mean nothing: therefore the PvdA faction is not available to join the VVD, CDA and D66 engine." Asscher said on Friday.

Departing PvdA Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem also stated that the PvdA is not available for talks. "Many parties exclude others. It's happening more and more. But we exclude ourselves", he said to the Financieele Dagblad on Monday. According to Dijsselbloem, the interests of the party outweigh the national interests for now. "We did that over the past years, saved the country. But now we are going to save the party. You're at the wrong address", he said.

Dijsselbloem also added that he will not stay on as Finance Minister in the next cabinet. "It is unthinkable that I will sit on a right-wing cabinet", he said to the newspaper.