Dutch election’s winner VVD faces coalition puzzle

Although Thursday’s preliminary results show the centre-right liberal VVD party was the biggest winner in the Dutch general election, the party still has to build a workable coalition.

According to the preliminary results, VVD won 36 seats, followed by the Labour Party (PvdA) with 30 seats. The far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) won 24 seats, while the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) of former Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende only secured 21 seats.

With no party winning a clear majority, the prospect for how to form a new coalition government remained uncertain, analysts said.

In order to find the minimum 76 seats needed to govern, the VVD is expected to either seek a coalition with the PVV and the CDA or form a government with the PvdA and other smaller parties, such as the D66 and GroenLinks, both of which won 10 seats.

However, observers said any combination presented conflict in policies and party cultures between potential partners and this would create an enormous obstacle to forming a new coalition government. Issues such as budget cuts and mortgage interest rates would create a natural division in the new coalition, observers said.

Mark Rutte, party leader of the VVD, said before the election he wanted a new cabinet in place by July 1., hoping the next cabinet would be able to draw up the 2011 spending plans, which were always published on the third Tuesday in September.

But the situation now seemed to disappoint the 43-year-old party leader. He would face a tough term with the possibility of collapse anytime, analysts pointed out.

A lot of Dutch people worried about the future of the new government.

“The Netherlands is at risk of becoming ungovernable,” the local TV NOS said in a report.

“In view of the economic measures that are needed, that is a ghastly result,” said Bernard Wientjes, chairman of the Netherlands Confederation of Industry and Employers, known as VNO-NCW.

Nevertheless, Rutte was confident he could solve the coalition puzzle.

“First, we must let the dust settle and examine which parties can form an effective coalition,” he told media Thursday, adding that a new cabinet before July 1. was still possible.

Rutte said he would not rule out talks with any party. “We’ll do our best to promote economic recovery, to deal with the big questions of public safety, education, immigration.”

Latest news said Queen Beatrix would appoint an informateur, who would check out possible coalitions, and a formateur, who would lead formation negotiations and who was normally the leader of the party with majority votes.

The new coalition government would be a result of complicated negotiations between the election committee in the Lower house, senators of the upper house, the parties and the informateur, analysts said, noting that such negotiations could take weeks, even months.


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