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Dutch cabinet formation talks have collapsed. What's next?

Pieter Omtzigt, leader of the ‘Nieuw Sociaal Contract’ (‘New Social Contract’) party, has withdrawn from talks to form a new Dutch government. Government finances are a divisive issue, and Ronald Plasterk’s decision to withhold documents on government finances seems to have particularly broken trust. Professor of Constitutional Law Wim Voermans discusses this on the Dutch news talkshow ‘NPO-Op1’.

Is a relaunch possible?

The Dutch electorate overwhelmingly voted for a right-wing coalition. With formation talks at a standstill, the chances of forming a majority government seem to have diminished. It’s unclear whether the breakdown in talks is genuine or temporary. Voermans refers to it as an ‘awkward scrape’ that is part of the ‘the rhythm of the polder’. He explains that ‘time is an important factor, which eventually heals all wounds’. Previous rounds of talks have shown that the key players have been able to move on.

An extra-parliamentary cabinet

From the outset, Pieter Omtzigt has expressed a clear preference for an extra-parliamentary cabinet of experts. Voermans says that while this route is still an option, forming a cabinet outside of Parliament is not without risk. One unsuccessful extra-parliamentary cabinet was the Fifth Colijn cabinet, which ‘was formed completely outside of Parliament and was dismissed by motion after just three days’.

More information

Listen to the NPO-Op1 broadcast (in Dutch)

See also the broadcast of Dutch news programme Nieuwsuur on 8 February (in Dutch) where Wim Voermans explains the different types of cabinet formations. The item begins at 9 minutes.

Photo: Hansjörg Keller through Unsplash

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