Dutch anti-Islam party has key role in coalition talks

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The Netherlands moved closer Tuesday to a rightist cabinet relying on anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders' support for passing policy, after a royal official said this option must be explored further.

"There is strong political will" on the part of the centre-right VVD, the Christian Democrats (CDA) and Wilders' Party for Freedom (PVV), to reach a cooperation agreement, Ruud Lubbers, an official tasked by the queen with examining post-election coalition options, said in his final report.

He recommended closer examination of how a VVD-CDA "minority" coalition could work in firm agreement with Wilders' PVV to give it a parliamentary majority when needed.

The VVD and CDA won a combined 52 seats in the 150-member Dutch Parliament in June 9 elections, and Wilders 24.

Analysts have explained that the "minority government" system currently on the drawing board would see Wilders' party left out of the cabinet but consulted on all policy.

Lubbers said further talks were needed to see whether it was "practically possible" to agree on public spending cuts to the tune of 18 billion euros (24 billion dollars)" -- a plan of the VVD, the biggest party, that Wilders opposes.

On the other hand, agreement will have to be reached on a "common approach to immigration, integration and asylum".

This would include negotiations on Wilders' demands for "regulating the dress of public servants" and "raising the level of Dutch language tests" for would-be immigrants.

Wilders, who calls Islam fascist, wants to tax headscarves and ban them for public servants, and to stop Muslim immigration.

The CDA initially refused post-election talks with Wilders citing fears for "basic human rights." But as negotiations for a leftist coalition failed, the CDA agreed to new talks though many of its members still baulk at entering into a formal coalition with the PVV.

© 2010 AFP

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