Home » Far-right Geert Wilders agrees deal for Dutch coalition government

Far-right Geert Wilders agrees deal for Dutch coalition government

The Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders has agreed the basis of his first rightwing coalition government in the Netherlands.

Six months after his shock win of a quarter of parliamentary seats, his anti-Islam, anti-immigration Party for Freedom (PVV) will take the lead in an uneasy four-party coalition.

In an agreement that needs to be formally voted through by the individual parliamentary parties on Wednesday evening, he will form a government with the centre-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), the New Social Contract party (NSC) and the Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB).

However, the 60-year-old will not become the next Dutch prime minister, in an unconventional and experimental “business government” arrangement. “The good news is that we have a negotiators’ agreement, but of course, this is only definitive when the parliamentary parties have also agreed,” Wilders told the Dutch press late in the afternoon.

Politicians refused to say who was in the running to be the next Dutch prime minister. Wilders said: “We have spoken about the prime minister today and we will come back to that discussion at a later moment.”

One leading candidate was thought to be Ronald Plasterk, a former Labour minister turned businessman and Eurosceptic columnist, who led the initial coalition negotiations last year.

Pieter Omtzigt, the founder of the NSC, said “six or seven” subjects had to be thrashed out on the formal deadline day for forming the coalition. He walked out on previous discussions due to reservations about supporting Wilders and is understood to be the major force behind the “extra-parliamentary government”, with a stronger role for parliamentary votes.

In March, the four parties agreed to aim for a partially technocratic government, comprising 50% politicians and 50% from outside politics.

Wilders, whose manifesto called for a ban on Islamic schools, mosques and the Qur’an and for a referendum on leaving the EU, will sit in the Dutch parliament with the other coalition party leaders, including Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius, who has taken over leadership of the VVD from the current prime minister, Mark Rutte, and Caroline van der Plas, in a first government role for the BBB.

During negotiations, Wilders publicly distanced himself from his anti-Islam stance, and symbolically withdrew three pieces of draft legislation. But the inflammatory politician, who has a criminal record for insulting Dutch-Moroccan people, did not win enough cross-party support to become PM.

Tom van der Meer, a professor of political science at the University of Amsterdam, said the consensus-oriented country was entering uncharted territory with the coalition. “How it will play out in practice is the primary question.

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“This would indeed be a first government in which the coalition is led by the far right. How this plays out will depend on the type of agreement and the level of commitment of the four coalition parties. Moreover, what tends to be ignored here: the upper house will also have a big say, and there is no majority [for the coalition] there.”

What observers have already described as a fragile coalition will be faced with challenges including a housing crisis, managing asylum policy, the effects of the climate crisis and balancing budgets now that the lucrative Groningen gas tap is off.

The Netherlands is one of a number of European countries experiencing a rise in support for the far right. In Belgium, the nationalist Vlaams Belang is leading the polls in the run-up to European, federal and regional elections. Polling suggests far-right and hardline conservative parties could win the European elections in nine EU states, including the Netherlands – although it is unclear how much this would affect the workings of the European parliament.