Coalition crisis wanes asparties agree to negotiate
24 March 2005, AMSTERDAM — The three parties in the coalition government of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende agreed on Thursday to renegotiate the government accord.
24 March 2005
AMSTERDAM — The three parties in the coalition government of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende agreed on Thursday to renegotiate the government accord.
The agreement is designed to give Democrat party D66 — the smallest of the coalition partners — sufficient reason to continue in government.
The future of the coalition was thrown into doubt when opposition senators in the Upper House of Parliament blocked a constitutional amendment that would have cleared the way for the direct election of mayors.
Altering the present system under which the Dutch monarch, Queen Beatrix, nominates mayors was a central theme in the D66 agenda and the main reason it agreed to enter the coalition.
Former D66 leader Thom de Graaf resigned from his post as Minister of Government Reform and Kingdom Affairs on Wednesday after the Senate rejected his legislation.
As it became clear that D66's second aim of reforming the entire electoral system was also a non-starter, the party's two remaining ministers, Laurens Jan Brinkhorst and Medy van der Laan, also began to consider whether they should resign.
If they were to resign, the coalition would collapse and a new election would be called.
As D66 only has six MPs, the party's future outside government does not seem very bright. Recent opinion polls have not given it much hope of a return to the days when it held dozens of seats.
Putting a brave face on its position, D66 has indicated that it will not pull out of the coalition as long as its partners, Balkenende's Christian Democrat CDA and the Liberal VVD, come up with a "considerable compensation packet".
This would involve redrafting the agreement on which the coalition was formed. What these changes might amount to, remains to be seen.
But Van der Laan, the D66 junior minister in charge of culture and media policy, has indicated the party will not be happy with "crumbs", news service NOS reported.
Media reports early on Thursday were pessimistic about the coalition's chances of survival. But later in the day the focus had shifted and more faith was being shown in the negotiations between the three parties.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Dutch news