Dutch Christian Democrats approve deal with anti-Islam MP
Dutch Christian Democrats approved a draft coalition deal Saturday that brought the country one step closer to a rightist government backed by the party of anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders.
"Out of 4,033 delegates, 2,759 voted for and 1,274 against" a plan for the Christian Democratic Action (CDA) to form a minority cabinet with the pro-business, centre-right VVD, CDA president Henk Bleker announced at a special party congress in Arnhem in the east Netherlands.
This represented a 68 percent to 32 percent split.
Under a draft coalition agreement reached by the three parties' leaders on Tuesday, the controversial Wilders' Party for Freedom (PVV) will remain outside of government but will provide the majority support the coalition will need to pass decisions through parliament -- in exchange for a say in policy-making.
Wilders, who campaigns for a ban on the burqa and an end to Muslim immigration, goes on trial in Amsterdam on Monday on charges of inciting hatred against Muslims.
The VVD narrowly won June 9 general elections with 31 out of 150 seats in parliament, while Wilders' PVV increased its support from nine to 24 seats.
Members of the CDA, which has been in nearly all governments since World War II, but which saw its support halved from 40 to 21 seats in the June poll, were deeply divided over cooperation with Wilders.
"Do not do this to the people of our country, do not do this to our party, do not do this to our country," senior CDA member and Justice Minister Hirsch Ballin urged congress-goers.
The draft deal, which Wilders said Wednesday would see the Netherlands banning the burqa and halving immigration, has already been adopted by VVD and PVV party members.
It must now be given the go-ahead by the CDA's 21 MPs, who had been waiting to test the waters at congress.
It will then be referred to Dutch Queen Beatrix to give the green light for VVD leader and presumed Prime Minister in waiting, Mark Rutte, to choose his cabinet.
© 2010 AFP