Political Right Forms Coalition in Netherlands

The Christian Democrats and liberals form a government with support from the Islamophobic Freedom Party.

Dutch party leaders Maxime Verhagen, Mark Rutte and Geert Wilders answer questions from reporters in The Hague, September 30
Dutch party leaders Maxime Verhagen, Mark Rutte and Geert Wilders answer questions from reporters in The Hague, September 30 (Rijksoverheid)

For the first time since the end of World War II, the Netherlands will have a minority government.

The Christian Democrats and liberals announced they formed a coalition today with parliamentary support from the Islamophobic Freedom Party.

Dutch voters swung to the right in June’s election, making Mark Rutte’s liberals the largest party.

Christian Democratic doubts

The Christian Democrats, who have traditionally governed in coalition with either the liberals or Labor, were decimated. Many of their voters, especially in the south, switched to Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party, which jumped from nine to 24 seats in the lower house.

The Christian Democrats are reluctant partners in the new government. They believe Wilders’ views on immigration and Islam are at odds with religious liberty and worry that Dutch foreign policy could be sabotaged by a man who estranges moderate Muslim regimes.

Wilders had announced his willingness to compromise on issues like the pension age immediately after the election. Realizing that his fringe opinions were unacceptable even to other right-wing parties, he also suggested that he could prop up a minority government in exchange for tougher immigration laws — which is what happened.

Prominent Christian Democrats continue to oppose the deal. A party congress will have to give final approval this weekend.

Cuts

Wilders and his party will not become part of the government nor supply cabinet members. Rather, he has pledged to vote with the Christian Democrats and liberals where they agree and not support no-confidence motions.

Dutch media report the parties have agreed to reduce spending by as much as €18 billion in order to comply with European budget rules. Integration programs, health care and social welfare could all see cuts.