Pieter Omtzigt has said his Nieuw Sociaal Contract party will stay out of the next round of talks to form a new Dutch government, but has not ruled out a pact with a minority right-wing cabinet.
Omtzigt walked out of the negotiations last week just as Ronald Plasterk, the former Labour (PvdA) minister overseeing the four-party discussions, was preparing to send a progress report to parliament.
Plasterk said Omtzigt’s absence in the last days made it difficult to judge if a cabinet could be formed, but recommended that all four parties start a second round of discussions under a different leader.
Omtzigt said it would be a “good idea” for the other three parties – the far-right PVV, the Liberal VVD and the farmers’ party BBB – to look at forming a minority cabinet, but said NSC would not take a seat at the negotiating table.
Parliament will debate Plasterk’s report on Wednesday, after which MPs are expected to appoint a new informateur to lead the next round of talks and draw up an agenda.
Omtzigt told Plasterk and the other party leaders on January 10 that his party was not prepared to form a majority cabinet with the other three because the differences between NSC and the PVV on the constitution were too great.
VVD leader Dilan Yesilgöz also said at the start of the negotiations that her party would not join a cabinet with Geert Wilders’s PVV, but was willing to support a minority coalition through a confidence and supply deal.
Plasterk said in his report that “it should be clear that not everyone in a cabinet can support it from outside,” a remark that will add to the pressure on Yesilgöz to change her stance.
Many rank and file members of the VVD are also keen for the party to form a right-wing cabinet with the PVV and BBB.
Wilders posted a message on X, formerly known as Twitter, saying the talks needed to continue because the country “must be governed”.
We moeten verder, Nederland wil dat politici verantwoordelijkheid nemen, problemen oplossen en compromissen sluiten want dit land moet geregeerd worden. Het is de moeite waard te bezien of – en vooral ook in welke vorm – we met elkaar verder kunnen.
En veel dank aan @RPlasterk!
— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) February 12, 2024
“It is worth looking to see if – and moreover in what form – we can continue together,” he said.
Timmermans: “No solution”
Frans Timmermans, leader of the left-wing alliance GroenLinks-PvdA, the second largest party in parliament after the PVV, said the talks had failed, but it was up to the right-wing parties to break the deadlock.
“The Netherlands has been waiting almost three months for a solution to the many problems we have and we are no closer to getting one,” Timmermans told EenVandaag.
“Wilders has the largest party in the Lower House, so he rightly has the initiative. They need to find a way to reach an agreement and as I understand it, that is probably going to be through some kind of minority construction.
“I think the country deserves a majority cabinet, but apparently they can’t make it work.”