Dutch govt. formation talks restart after summer break

After a break of almost three weeks, the VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie are meeting today to continue negotiating forming a government together. It's now been 144 days since the government formation talks began. On average, formation talks last 90 days, RTL Nieuws reports.

These four parties started negotiating under the mediation of Gerrit Zalm at the end of June. The combination of VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie is the only feasible coalition left that wil have a majority in both the Eerste Kamer and Tweede Kamer - the Dutch Senate and lower house of parliament.

On the last day of talks before the summer break, Zalm described the negotiations in terms of the Tour de France. They've crossed some mountain stages, but the finish line is not yet in sight, he said. Time is less important than quality, he stressed. The negotiators were cautiously optimistic about the state of the negotiations before the vacation. 

While the party leaders were taking a break, Zalm continued working. He worked out plans and financial matters and made text proposals. "I do all that's necessary for good preparation", he said at the start of the vacation, according to RTL. 

The negotiators will meet at 10:00 a.m. This afternoon they'll discuss natural gas extraction with the leaders of that field. That's expected to be a difficult topic, as the parties are divided on the tempo at which gas extraction should be reduced.