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4/4/17

Dutch Political Scene: Why the Dutch need three months to form a government

Two weeks after the Dutch election, the politician leading talks to form a new coalition says it may take three months or more. But far-right leader Geert Wilders, whose party came second, is nowhere to be seen.

He may be the firebrand Dutch politician who dominated the country's most divisive election campaign in years, but Geert Wilders and his anti-immigration Party for Freedom (PVV) have no option but to watch from the sideline as four mainstream parties seek to build the Netherlands' next government.

Talks to form a new coalition, led by incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte, began immediately after the March 15 general election. But the main party leaders have refused to deal with the PVV, despite it winning the second-largest number of seats in parliament.

Since World War II, Dutch governments have taken an average of 72 days to be decided, compared to four to six weeks for a typical German coalition. The Dutch record is nearly seven months in 1977, but even that pales in comparison to its neighbor, Belgium, who after its 2010 election took 541 days to agree to a coalition.

Center-right politician Edith Schippers, whose job it is to achieve a new alliance to run the country, believes the new government won't be in place until July at the earliest. On Wednesday, she gave parliament a progress report on negotiations, warning that an agreement before Easter was "highly unlikely," Dutch public broadcaster NOS reported.

So why does coalition-building take so long in the Netherlands, especially when Wilders - the most divisive political player - is not participating?

"What makes it difficult is our truly multi-party parliament, with 13 parties now represented in the lower house," Professor Ruud Koole, a political scientist at Leiden University, told DW. He said Rutte's liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) would not be content with a minority government.

"You don't really have big parties anymore that dominate a coalition. The VVD now needs three other parties to participate, and that takes a long time," Koole said.

Read more: Why the Dutch need three months to form a government | News | DW.COM | 30.03.2017

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