Thursday, July 29, 2010

Talks About Talks

Since last month’s general election, the Netherlands has been in constitutional limbo. At first all the mainstream parties absolutely refused the possibility of forming a coalition with Geert Wilders’ party, the PVV. Then, after a lot of wrangling and dickering, it became apparent that a government without the PVV could not be readily achieved.

At that point the two least left-wing parties — the VVD and the CDA — decided that, well, yes, maybe they would be willing to work with the PVV, if only Mr. Wilders were to ease up on some of his most extreme Islamophobic positions.

Since then there have been talks about talks, but no actual official talking. Our Flemish correspondent VH has translated two articles about the process. First, here’s what De Telegraaf had to say about the situation early on Monday:

Informal consultations on Monday

THE HAGUE — The party leaders Mark Rutte (VVD) Geert Wilders (PVV) and Maxime Verhagen (CDA) are meeting Monday at a secret location in The Hague for informal consultation to see whether there are possibilities to form a government together. The consultation was at the request of informateur Ruud Lubbers. It is not clear how long the consultation will lasts. Possibly also in the coming days there will be meetings [they will continue on Tuesday].

The CDA has always been opposed to a three-way conversation with the VVD and PVV. VVD and PVV should first agree in broad terms. But under pressure from informateur and former Christian Democrat prime minister Ruud Lubbers, the CDA fraction accepted an initial informal meeting. Lubbers will not be there himself.

Since the elections on June 9 there has been quite a bit of puzzling going on about forming a cabinet. The formation of a coalition of VVD (major party), PVV (biggest winner) and CDA have up till now encountered objections from the latter party [CDA]. The formation of a right-wing government thus seemed impossible, but that option was still in the air. Therefore Lubbers wants these parties to first talk informally, without himself present, to see if any business can be done.

The CDA will enter the informal consultation without preconditions. But if the CDA were then to decide to really negotiate with the PVV for cooperation [minority cabinet supported by the PVV for instance, according to the Danish model] or a coalition government, there would be a few issues, according to Maxime Verhagen, that would be of great importance to the CDA. For example, a tax on headscarves and the desire of the PVV to scrap development aid must be taken off the table.

PVV leader Geert Wilders is pleased that the CDA wants to enter the conversation with his party and the VVD. He finds it a good thing that the CDA is doing that without preconditions.

Then, two days later, Elsevier reported that the talks about talking are continuing:
- - - - - - - - -
Parties continue talks about right-wing cabinet Wednesday

by Jeroen Langelaar

Mark Rutte, Geert Wilders and Maxime Verhagen are taking their time. The talks among the fraction leaders of VVD, PVV and CDA have been suspended early Tuesday. VVD and CDA spokesmen made it known afterwards that the three gentlemen will continue talks this Wednesday about a right-wing government.

On Monday Rutte (VVD), Wilders (PVV), and Verhagen (CDA) started informal discussions at a secret location, an initiative of informateur Ruud Lubbers, who himself did not join in. The three fraction leaders returned between three and half past three at the Binnenhof [parliament buildings in The Hague]. Nobody wanted to provide comments on their progress. Lubbers also said nothing.

It is unclear why the consultation was suspended so soon. The faction leaders of the four-plus Purple-plus parties had in recent weeks been talking regularly until late at night.

The informateur Lubbers has been assigned by Queen Beatrix to clarify as soon as possible whether a right-wing cabinet of VVD, PVV and CDA, or a minority government with two of the three parties, is possible. Negotiating with the PVV is controversial in leftist circles of the CDA. A slight majority of CDA voters (53 percent) is in favor of a right-wing government.

Make yourselves comfortable, everybody. It looks like this one is going to take a while.


Yorkshireminer said...

Talks about talks, that is about right, This political game of musical chairs can go on for months and I expect that they will, in fact living here in the Netherlands I have been relishing them. Maxime Verhagen does not like Wilders, he exudes the odour of a patrician who looks down his nose at we more humble folk, and he certainly does not want a coalition with the PVV, that is absolutely certain, but in Politics perception is everything and his intransigence is being seen as a stumbling block. Enter stage left (grope a secretary Lubers) an ex Prime Minister as formateaur , who has a far more politically astute nose, They come from the same party the CDA, he has most likely had a quiet little word in Verhagen's ear, on how too play this scene. I suspect that it went something like this get the PVV involved in talks, drag them out, then break them off of on a small point of principle and blame the PVV. Not that many people are taking much notice at the moment as it is Bouwvak or the Holiday period and most people are off on there holidays. The only thing I will say with certainty is that this can go on for months, the PVV is riding high in the polls at the moment, and none of the parties including the Taliban want who have endorsed the PvdA (labour Party) want Wilders in Government, and none of them want another election. Sort of like being between a rock and a hard place.