Dutch post-election negotiations enter fourth month

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Coalition talks in the Netherlands are going into their fourth month today as royally appointed negotiator Herman Tjeenk Willink is sounding out party leaders.

On Thursday afternoon Mr Tjeenk Willink is receiving Mark Rutte of the free-market liberal VVD, Christian Democrat interim leader Maxime Verhagen, and Geert Wilders of the anti-Islam Freedom Party.

The three fell out last week, despite being close to reaching agreement on a centre-right government programme. One Christian Democrat negotiator withdrew from the talks, causing Geert Wilders to lose confidence in the prospective coalition. His party is needed to lend majority support to the rightist minority cabinet. The dissident Christian Democrat has meanwhile resigned from parliament and has been replaced with a more loyal party member, prompting Geert Wilders to offer a resumption of the talks.

Conditions Queen Beatrix appointed Mr Tjeenk Willink, the Deputy Chairman of the Council of State and sometimes referred to as the deputy king of the Netherlands, to assert whether a continuation of the long drawn-out talks is viable. He announced on Thursday that "certain conditions will have to be met" for the negotiations to resume.

Caretaker Family Minister André Rouvoet meanwhile told reporters that he is very worried about the stability of the intended right-wing coalition. "We can't have four years of capers like the ones we had last week," he said, referring to Mr Wilders temporary withdrawal of support. Mr Rouvoet, leader of the small Christian Union party, repeated his preference for a stable majority government, of whatever colour.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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