Dutch rightist coalition talks fail: party leaders

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Negotiations to form a rightist Dutch coalition government backed by controversial anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders have floundered, the leaders of the parties involved in the talks said Friday.

"The negotiations did not succeed," Mark Rutte, leader of the pro-business VVD party that narrowly won June 9 elections, told a press conference.

"I regret the outcome," he added, saying the VVD believes a rightist coalition would have done "justice to the election result."

Rutte's VVD started official negotiations on August 9 on the formation of a rightist coalition with the Christian Democratic Action (CDA) of Maxime Verhagen after exploratory talks on a centre-left coalition failed.

The VVD and CDA wanted to form a so-called "minority coalition" with Wilders' Party for Freedom (PVV) remaining an outsider but providing the majority required to pass decisions through parliament in return for a voice in policy formation.

The VVD and CDA won a combined 52 seats in the 150-member Dutch parliament in June 9 elections. Wilders' PVV nearly tripled its seats to come in third with 24 -- enough to provide the 76-seat majority the VVD and CDA would require in parliament.

Members of the CDA, however, baulked at the idea of cooperation with Wilders citing fears for basic human rights. Senior party member and Health Minister Ab Klink insisted in a letter made public this week that the talks be broken off.

Wilders calls Islam fascist and wants to stop Muslim immigration and the building of new mosques in a bid to arrest the "Islamisation" of the Netherlands.

Klink's letter forced the CDA, which led the previous four governments but saw its representation halved in the June polls, to retreat for two days of urgent internal talks, after which Verhagen announced that everyone was back on board.

But Wilders was not convinced and ended the negotiations on Friday citing a breach of trust.

"The PVV's trust in the CDA has declined to an all-time low," the politician told journalists, saying he "lamented" the outcome.

"We really wanted to be able to support a stable government. Instead, we will play our role as the biggest opposition party."

Verhagen expressed regret at Wilders' decision, saying he was "convinced" an agreement could have been reached "that would have been supported by all 21" of the CDA's parliamentary representatives.

Ivo Opstelten, an official appointed by Queen Beatrix to examine coalition options, will now compile a final report for the monarch on the way forward.

© 2010 AFP

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