Dutch PM: Govt formation talks far from over; new elections may be needed

VVD leader and current Prime Minister Mark Rutte does not see a breakthrough happening in the government formation talks any time soon. In fact, he worries that new elections may be necessary, he said in a live session the VVD hosted on Facebook on Wednesday afternoon, NU.nl reports.

"You can't rule it out", Rutte said about the possibility of new elections. Though he hopes that it does not come to that. "The voter gave us this result. We have to do something with it." Failing to do so would be a "letter of incompetence", he said.

Wednesday counted the 90th day of formation negotiations. And with a second round of failed negotiations with GroenLinks, forming a coalition government with a majority in parliament and the senate, seems more unlikely than ever. There are a number of parties that can help the 'engine' of VVD, CDA and D66 to a majority, but each has its own objections.

Mediator Herman Tjeenk Willink spoke to Rutte and CDA leader Sybrand Buma earlier on Wednesday. Afterwards both party leaders said that there are three options remaining: the engine of VVD, CDA and D66 with either ChristenUnie, SP or PvdA.

ChristenUnie and D66 previously decided their differences are too big for them to work together. The SP does not want to work with the VVD. And the PvdA does not want to rule at all, after losing a massive 29 parliamentary seats in the election. 

Rutte called on all parties to take responsibility and place national interest above party interest. "Elections are there to get as many seats as possible and turn it into policy", he said, adding that no party will be able to carry out its entire electoral program. "Governing also means suffering pain, but that's part of it."

According to Rutte, the other parties fear being electorally punished for taking governing responsibility. He blames GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver's withdrawal on "cold feet", which he can't understand. He pointed to Klaver's meet-ups being attended by thousands. "Then you ought to get things together", he said.

Klaver withdrew from the negotiations because he refused to make asylum deals with North African countries. He fears that those countries aren't able to give asylum seekers the protection they're entitled to, and that enforcing any form of agreement will be impossible. "We will not send anyone back to countries where it is unsafe", Klaver said in the Tweede Kamer debate on the formation collapse on Tuesday.

This definitely annoyed the VVD, CDA and D66 - "Unbelievable and incomprehensible", a "bewildered" Rutte responded. "Extremely disappointed", Buma said. "Absurd", said D66 leader Alexander Pechtold, according to De Correspondent. Even the PvdA attacked the Green party. 

But Klaver's determination to stick to his ideals earned admiration from local factions of his party. And his refusal to make deals with North African countries was met with approval from migration experts and humanitarian groups. "The best news of this week: Jesse Klaver takes his ideals seriously", Rutger Bregman wrote in De Correspondent.