Dutch election winner visits queen before talks

Dutch election winner visits queen before talks
# 11 June 2010 19:57 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. The head of the free-market VVD party put in his bid to lead the next Dutch government Friday, saying he will explore an alliance with anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders to see if they can put the Dutch economy back on track, APA reports quoting “Associated Press”.
A coalition between Mark Rutte’s VVD and Wilders’ Freedom Party would keep the Netherlands in the forefront of Europe’s backlash against the flow of millions of economic migrants from Muslim countries, which conservatives say strains welfare budgets and challenges national identities.
Election officials on Friday completed the counting from Wednesday’s vote, confirming Mark Rutte’s VVD as the largest party after Wednesday’s election, edging out the left-of-center Labor Party 31-30 in the 150-seat parliament. Wilders came third with 24.
In the first formal step toward forming a government, Rutte informed Queen Beatrix that his party was ready to take on the task of negotiating a majority coalition.
Outside the palace in The Hague, Rutte told reporters he was obliged to turn first to the Freedom Party, since it had scored the largest gains.
"The fact that not the VVD, but the Freedom Party is the biggest winner in these elections must be looked at very seriously," he said. "We’re looking for a Cabinet that both commands a workable majority in Parliament and is prepared to take economic recovery in hand."
Labor Party leader Job Cohen, following his own visit to the Dutch monarch, agreed an alliance between Rutte and Wilders "should be examined first" in view of the election outcome, though such a government would be far from his liking.
Wilders has said he wants to be part of the government, even dropping one of his key economic demands to be more in line with Rutte’s austerity plans.
A right-wing government also would require the Christian Democrats, who suffered such a humiliating defeat that Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende announced he will leave politics as soon as a new prime minister is installed to replace him.
If Rutte’s talks with Wilders collapse, as many expect, he might turn to Labor and two other center-left parties, a coalition that would involve deep compromises on all sides on economic policy and might take months to put together.
Wilders is a perennial outsider in Dutch politics who walked out of the VVD in 2004 over its support for Turkey’s entry into the European Union, and sat in parliament as a one-man faction. In the 2006 election he won nine seats.
His inflammatory anti-Islam policies have led to concerns that it could hurt the Netherlands’ international image if he is taken into the government. He faces criminal charges in an Amsterdam court later this year for inciting hatred and discrimination.