Dutch coalition talks continue behind closed doors

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The four political parties currently involved in negotiating a new coalition government for the Netherlands have agreed to observe a 'no comment' policy towards the media for the duration of their talks. The leading party, conservative liberal VVD, is involved in tough negotiations with centre-left Labour, D66 and Green Left. The four party leaders say that leaking information to the media could hamper progress.

VVD leader Mark Rutte, head of the biggest party in the Lower House since the 9 June elections when it polled 31 percent of the vote, is under pressure from within his party. Opinion polls show that most of the VVD electorate want their party in a centre-right coalition, rather than in a government with the left - as would be the outcome of the current exploratory talks. Yet the royally appointed coalition negotiators, Senator Uri Rosenthal and Professor Jacques Wallage, say this four-party centre-left coalition will enjoy a comfortable 81-seat majority in the 150-member house and should therefore be tried.

Negotiations on Tuesday are focusing on austerity measures needed to bring a liitle more balance into the ailing national budget. Opinions differ widely, with the VVD favouring immediate, stringent cuts and the left pleading for a more phased long-term approach.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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