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Coalition talks round two: MPs ask SER chief to take over
Kim Putters after his appointment. Photo: Sem van der Wal ANP

A card-carrying member of the Labour party has been charged by parliament with overseeing the next round of efforts to form a right-wing government in the Netherlands, following a bad-tempered debate in parliament on Wednesday.

Kim Putters, the chairman of the SER think-tank and a former PvdA senator, was nominated by Geert Wilders, leader of the far-right PVV, to take on the job and has said he is willing to do so. 

“I’m going to do my best but I’m first going to get prepared,” Putters told reporters. He is due to give a press conference later on Thursday.

The four parties that have been involved in the talks to date backed Putters’ nomination but it was opposed by the GroenLinks-PvdA group, as well as the pro-animal PvdD and pro-EU party Volt. 

Putters has been given the job of looking for a “fruitful political alliance which does justice to the results of the election, including the major shift [to the far right] which took place”. He has been given four weeks to come up with a possible way forward.

As yet it is still unclear what form a new coalition will take. The NSC has ruled out joining a majority cabinet with the far-right PVV, while the VVD has said it favours an “extra-parliamentary” cabinet, with some non-aligned ministers. Putters will talk to all party leaders in parliament as part of his mission.

Wednesday’s debate on the formation process so far – which broke down last week when the NSC pulled out – was a bitter affair, with the PVV, VVD, and BBB all attacking NSC leader Pieter Omtzigt for the way he stepped down from the process. 

Nevertheless, “the Netherlands needs Omtzigt,” BBB leader Caroline van der Plas said, after an outburst of criticism. 

“You could see this debate as a sort of right-wing relationship therapy at times,” said RTL commentator Fons Lambie. “Wilders and Van der Plas were very scathing about Omtzigt’s actions last week. There is very little trust between them, whatever sort of alliance they form.” 

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