Optimism over quick Cabinet formation deal with four parties onboard
The four parties that are going to begin negotiations to form a new Cabinet want to draw up a "concise" coalition agreement in which more details are left up to the individual ministers. This also means that the next phase of the Cabinet formation can "go quickly", said informateur Johan Remkes, who led coalition talks over the past four weeks. Shortly after Remkes held a press conference on Thursday to present his final report on the subject, ChristenUnie said it was ready to discuss a restart of the current coalition.
That means that the four parties making up the current Cabinet will move forward to the next phase of talks. Remkes said that the coalition parties "really have to make a fresh start," repeating the sentiment shared by the leaders of the VVD, D66 and CDA. This means that there must be a better separation between the responsibilities of the Cabinet and those of the coalition factions in the Tweede Kamer.
Remkes also wrote that the PvdA, GroenLinks, Volt, SGP and the Den Haan faction will be given the opportunity to supply Cabinet ministers and state secretaries at "a later stage". PvdA, Volt, SGP and the Den Haan faction already indicated that they do not wish to participate despite Remkes saying they should be invited to the table.
"Informateur Remkes draws conclusions that we do not share and that have not been discussed in such a way. The PvdA will have no role whatsoever in the formation of this Cabinet. Not in negotiations, not in providing ministers. We are entering the opposition," said PvdA leader Lilianne Ploumen on Twitter.
Jesse Klaver, the GroenLinks leader, was more restrained saying his party was more concerned with the content of such a deal. He then affirmed, "We are not going to supply ministers to a right-wing Cabinet." Earlier in the day, when it emerged that the current coalition could continue, he said, "This Cabinet has not solved the housing crisis, climate crisis and inequality. Why should that be any different with a continuation of this coalition?"
Two key breakthroughs emerged on Thursday to indicate that the foundation of a Cabinet deal was imminent. The first was D66 saying they would be willing to continue to work with ChristenUnie, even if that was not their ideal solution. The second was ChristenUnie telling Remkes they would stop blocking initiatives related to medical ethics as it pertains to forming a Cabinet.
It is "a form of old political culture" to make agreements in advance during coalition talks to vote against initiatives from Parliament, Remkes said in reference to an end-of-life bill proposed by D66 MP Pia Dijkstra, which the ChristenUnie is against.
"Now that we are being urgently called upon, we are prepared to enter into discussions about this and about constructive cooperation. Not for the benefit of ourselves, but for the benefit of our country and of people who really depend on a serviceable government," said Gert-Jan Segers, the ChristenUnie leader. He wants to see emphasis placed on reforming the current administrative culture, climate policy, a humane migration policy and the housing shortage.
In the initial phase of the talks between VVD, D66, CDA and ChristenUnie, the parties will be given room for "constructive involvement" on various points, Remkes wrote in his report. These are the development of the budget agreements, the administrative culture and parts of the government programme.
The party leaders of the PvdA, GroenLinks, Volt, SGP and faction Den Haan should then also get the opportunity to participate in the formation, Remkes wrote in his report. As such, "an open invitation" remains for parties outside of the main coalition partners to supply Cabinet ministers and state secretaries, though it became clear later on Thursday that Volt, SGP and the Den Haan faction would not participate.
For now, the four former parties of the third Cabinet of Prime Minister Mark Rutte are not yet ready to admit members of other parties into the Cabinet while they continue negotiations, according to Remkes. He hinted that the parties must quickly make a decision about their position regarding the coalition. "As time goes on", the chance shrinks that additional parties will be able to participate.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times