Change of scenery for Dutch govt. formation talks

Johan de Witthuis on Kneuterdijk in The Hague
Johan de Witthuis on Kneuterdijk in The Hague. (Photo: Freek Plasmeijer / Wikimedia Commons)

The Dutch government formation talks are continuing this week, but not on the Binnenhof. On Monday and Tuesday the leaders of the VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie, and their seconds, will be negotiating in the Johan de Witthuis, a few hundred meters away from their regular meeting place, AD reports.

Mediator Gerrit Zalm hopes that a change of scenery wil bring some new inspiration. 

The new location also offers more privacy. The Johan de Witthuis has a walled garden where the party leaders can wander and discuss. They can also open the windows without being overheard. In the regular meeting place, the Stadhouderskamer, this was impossible. "It gets terribly hot in there", D66 leader Alexander Pechtold said to AD. "We tried opening the windows during the discussions, but when we tested, we realized that every word could be understood outside."

The negotiations for forming a new Dutch government have been going on for months - the parliamentary election was on March 15th and the negotiations started shortly after the results were known. On Friday the party leaders announced that no government was formed yet.

ChristenUnie leader Gert-Jan Segers said that they are discussing "complicated, tricky, difficult and beautiful topics", according to broadcaster NOS. Pechtold spoke of tough negotiations. 

The Johan de Witthuis is a National Monument from 1655 located on Kneuterdijk in The Hague. Nowadays it serves as a venue for official meetings. The building is named after Johan de Witt, the first pensioner of the county of Holland, according to NOS. De Witt lived there from 1669 until 1672, when he and his brother Cornelis were gruesomely killed by royalists.