No Senate majority for Dutch ruling coalition: report

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The rightist Dutch government and its anti-Islam parliamentary partner were dealt a historic blow on Monday as they failed to obtain a majority in the Senate, Dutch public television reported.

A coalition of Prime Minister Mark Rutte's liberal VVD party, the Christian Democratic Action (CDA) and the Party for Freedom (PVV) of controversial politician Geert Wilders managed 37 seats in the 75-seat upper house, according to provisional results announced on the NOS.

Analysts have warned a failure to obtain a majority could paralyse the coalition's policy-making following the vote by 566 deputies from the country's 12 provinces.

The result showed the coalition one seat short of the majority required to pass laws through the veto-wielding Senate -- the first time since 1918 that a Dutch government finds itself in such a position.

But analysts have said the ruling coalition would still be able to count on the support of the small but ultra-conservative Christian party the SGP, which has one seat.

Should Rutte's government get the extra seat, it would mean it would be able to pursue its political programme, notably its policies on immigration.

Elected on March 2, the 566 provincial deputies voted on Monday at 3pm (1300 GMT) for the 75 senators who will take their seats in the Dutch parliament's upper house on June 7.

Traditionally expected to vote for their own parties, the provincial deputies nevertheless have the freedom to vote for others, following political deals being struck behind the scenes.

The official results, established with the help of a complex mathematical system of coefficients, will be published on Wednesday at 4pm (1400 GMT) by the Dutch electoral council.

Rutte's government has a bare majority (76 seats of 150) in the lower house thanks to the support of the hard-line PVV.

His political programme includes budget cuts and a hardening in the stance on immigration.

© 2011 AFP

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