Dutch Christian Democrat MPs approve deal with anti-Islam MP

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Dutch Christian Democrat MPs unanimously approved a deal Tuesday for the formation of a minority rightist government backed by the party of anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders.

"All 21 members (of parliament) will support the implementation of the governing agreement" between the Christian Democratic Action and the rightist, pro-business VVD, CDA leader Maxime Verhagen told journalists after a party caucus meeting in The Hague.

The deal will see the controversial Wilders' Party for Freedom (PVV) remain outside of government but providing the majority support the minority 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, went on trial in Amsterdam on Monday on charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims.

The CDA MPs' approval was the last major hurdle to the agreement being presented to Dutch Queen Beatrix for her to give the final green light for VVD leader and Prime Minister in waiting, Mark Rutte, to form his cabinet.

Verhagen, likely to be deputy premier, said his party's members will continue to critically assess whether the practical implementation of the agreement "does justice to CDA policies and principles."

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 saw its support halved in June, were deeply divided over cooperation with Wilders.

At a special party conference on Saturday, closely watched by the CDA's executive, 68 percent of party members approved the coalition agreement, apparently convincing two MPs who had indicated they might vote against it on Tuesday (today).

The deal, which Wilders said last week would see the Netherlands ban the burqa and halve immigration, has already been adopted by VVD and PVV party members.

© 2010 AFP

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