Minority coalition best option; Formation processed strained political relationships
The past cabinet formation period strained the relationships between VVD, D66, CDA, PvdA, GroenLinks and the ChristenUnie, said informateur Mariette Hamer in her final report to parliamentary president Vera Bergkamp on Thursday. She recommended that an informateur be appointed from the VVD to search for a minority coalition that consists of a "to be determined combination of VVD, D66 and CDA". The VVD already suggested Johan Remkes for this position.
Before the summer recess, Hamer asked VVD leader Mark Rutte and D66 leader Sigrid Kaag to, as the two largest parties, write a draft coalition agreement, in the hope that other parties can join the coalition based on the content. Over the past weeks, Hamer met with VVD, D66, CDA, PvdA, GroenLinks, and ChristenUnie in an attempt to find a combination of parties that are both willing to work together, and have a majority seats in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament.
"However, based on my findings under part 5, I unfortunately have to conclude that no coalition negotiations aimed at forming a majority coalition can be started at this time," Hamer said in her report. She called this regrettable, because "on the basis of the content there are sufficient leads to arrive at a majority coalition from the broad center."
The six parties involved in the talks erected blockades "on grounds other than content", Hamer said, blocking each other based on "the positioning of parties in relation to each other and the perception of this"
VVD and CDA refused to work with both left-wing parties, also after GroenLinks and PvdA agreed to join negotiations as one bloc instead of two separate parties. GroenLinks and PvdA remained firm on their stance that they will join a coalition together or not at all. And D66 won't work with ChristenUnie again.
Hamer called it "very worrying" that it was impossible to achieve a breakthrough for a majority coalition among these parties. Previously these parties in the broad center "ensured that compromises could be made in order to realize solutions", whether from the coalition or opposition, Hamer said.
"Our parliamentary culture always consisted of parties' willingness to start negotiations, sometimes very reluctantly," Hamer said. The fact that this willingness was not there in this formation process will damage citizens' confidence in politics, she believes. According to her, "new workable relationships" need to emerge quickly, and the VVD should take the lead in that as the largest party.
"During the conversations, a lot of time was also spent on what was said about each other in the media," Hamer said. This is not new, but "given the discussion about an open management culture", it would be good to pay attention to this in the next round of formation discussions.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times