Talks on forming a coalition government between the two Liberal parties, Labour and the left-wing greens GroenLinks stranded on Tuesday evening on differences about how much to cut from government spending.I haven't posted anything about the ongoing attempts to form a viable cabinet, given the results of the general elections June 9 last. I had planned to write something, if and when a new cabinet was formed. But I just wanted to share my sense of relief that this particular cabinet, sanctioned by our Queen I'm sad to say, is not going to happen.
The four parties were in their third week of talks on forming a so-called purple plus cabinet, named after the combination of party colours.
VVD leader Mark Rutte said a very real effort had been made to bridge the differences between the parties but in the end the talks 'broke down down over the finances', NOS tv reported.
The VVD wants to make cuts between now and 2015 of €18bn - a figure the party says is the bare minimum. Labour, D66 and GroenLinks say this was too much.
There are also sharp differences between them about reforming mortgage tax relief and introducing a tax on motoring.
The VVD is opposed to cuts in the mortgage tax break and road pricing. The other parties want mortgage reform and a kilometre tax.
Rutte described the break as definitive. 'There will not be a purple cabinet,' he was quoted as saying.
The other parties were less final. 'I never say never,' Labour leader Job Cohen said.
'We knew before we started it would be difficult. Everyone did their very best,' the Telegraaf quoted him as saying.
D66 leader Alexander Pechtold and GroenLinks' Femke Halsema both said they were very disappointed with the outcome.
Rutte will now advise the queen to look to forming a right centre left coalition between the VVD, Labour and Christian Democrats, Nos said. 'Given the circumstances, that is the most likely option,' he said.
The VVD took one more seat than Labour in the June general election, giving it the upper hand in the cabinet formation process.
But Labour leader Cohen opposes such a three-party groupimg because it involves two parties which lost support in the general election: Labour which lost three seats and the CDA which lost 20.
The two negotiators Uri Rosenthal and Jacques Wallage are expected to present their report on the negotiations to queen Beatrix on Wednesday afternoon.
Immediately after the election, Rutte began talks on forming a right-wing government with the anti-Islam PVV.
But those talks failed because the CDA refused to join in until the Liberals and Wilders had agreed on controversial issues such as a headscarf tax, ethnic registration and a ban on Muslim immigration.
Wilders said on Tuesday evening that his party, the VVD and CDA should get down to talking immediately. 'Otherwise there should be new elections,' the Telegraaf quoted him as saying.
Rutte has indicated he still wants to go for a 'cabinet of the middle' (VVD, CDA and PvdA), but after this I think the 'Danish variant' (a minority cabinet of VVD and CDA, with support from the PVV) becomes increasingly likely.
Be that as it may, today the Netherlands skirted the edge of the abyss, but managed not to fall in. This has been a good day.