Christian party only option left in Dutch govt formation after Labour pulls out

PvdA leader Lodewijk Asscher officially made his party unavailable for government formation talks. "We are not available to help the engine to a majority", he said after speaking with mediator Herman Tjeenk Willink on Tuesday, according to AD. If the 'engine' of VVD, CDA and D66 still want to rule in a four party majority coalition, the ChristenUnie is the only option left to them.

ChristenUnie brings five parliamentary seats to the table. With the VVD's 33 seats and 19 each for the CDA and D66, the ChristenUnie can give the 'engine block' a narrow majority of 76 seats in the Tweede Kamer, out of a total of 150. In the Eerste Kamer, the Senate, the four parties together would have 38 out of 75 seats.

ChristenUnie leader Gert-Jan Segers previously stated that his party is open to negotiations, but only if the PvdA option is ruled out and all other involved parties find it "desirable". 

On Tuesday VVD leader Mark Rutte said that the three parties in the 'engine block' want to form a government that binds left-wing and right-wing politics together. Whether this will be possible with the ChristenUnie is uncertain.

In any event, negotiations with ChristenUnie are expected to be difficult. The D66 and ChristenUnie have very different views on a number of topics, including Europe, the labor market and euthanasia. D66 leader Alexander Pechtold blocked a previous attempt to negotiate with the ChristenUnie by presenting Segers with a list of topics on which he would have to make concessions. 

This time around Segers has a stronger negotiating position, given that his party is the only option left to help the VVD, CDA and D66 to a majority.

Alternatively, the 'engine' could try to rule with a minority. But doing so is a painful prospect. It would mean needing support from the opposition for every proposal the government wants to get through parliament and the Senate. 


Related stories