The Netherlands is well-known for taking its time in creating a new coalition government, and 2021 is no different
by Thomas Ansell
The political system in the Netherlands tends to prioritise consensus building, and making the most of a multi-faceted group of views. At least, that’s an optimistic assessment of the endless machinations between six parties that will end up with Mark Rutte as the Prime Minister (again). After the March 2021 Dutch general election, and following an unfortunate incident where some confidential documents were paraded in front of news cameras, negotiations to form the next Dutch government are still ongoing.
As reported by the NOS this morning, the six-way negotiations might have just reached an insurmountable impasse, with various parties ruling themselves out of working with each other. The (neutral) official in charge of hashing out a coalition agreement, Mariëtte Hamer, will be holding further talks today with party leaders from the VVD, PvdA, GroenLinks; ChristenUnie, the CDA, and D66.
In order to have a majority in the Dutch Tweede Kamer (the main house of lawmaking), any government needs 76 seats out of 150. Mark Rutte’s VVD won 34 in the last election, with Sigrid Kaag’s D66 winning a further 24.
Both parties want to work with eachother, and have done so in the past in various formations. With the pair needing some top-up votes from other parties, and a ‘cordon sanitaire’ around the PVV, there are six parties that could make it into government.
The potential kingmakers span a bit more than half of the width of the political spectrum: GroenLinks and the PvdA on the soft left, through to the CDA, ChristenUnie, and VVD on the centre-right.
The VVD and CDA don’t want to work with the PvdA and GroenLinks, who won’t let themselves be split. D66 doesn’t want to work with ChristenUnie, who have come across all martyr-like and will only join the group if there’s ‘no other option’ anyway.
If the impasse continues, then Hamer might have to ask the VVD and D66 leaders to come up with a new governing programme, which will then be presented to the other parties. The circus will begin again, and eventually the Netherlands will have a government!