Netherlands: Wilders gives up bid to be PM

The Dutch right-wing populist leader Geert Wilders has announced he will forego the job of prime minister in order to clear the way for a right-wing coalition. Now Wilders' PVV party, the conservative-liberal VVD, the farmers' party BBB and the centrist NSC will examine the possibility of forming an "extra-parliamentary cabinet" which would be staffed by external experts, among others. What does this mean for the Netherlands and the EU?

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De Standaard (BE) /

A party that evades responsibility

De Standaard doubts that a government can be formed in this way:

“The Dutch coalition-forming process makes one thing clear: for Geert Wilders, the bar is as low as it goes. He is now putting the 'general interest' first, so to speak. First he abandoned his programme, now it's his ambitions too. Co-government remains the most important goal for the far right. It doesn't care about the programme. And one thing is certain: if things go wrong, it will definitely be the others who are to blame. That's how the people on the far right have always behaved. Taking responsibility is not their thing.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

No longer a constructive and reliable partner

The news that Wilders will not be prime minister is encouraging only at first glance, warns Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“Because the second part of the news is that the Netherlands will in all likelihood soon have a far-right government. ... This cabinet will strike a new tone in environmental, climate, Russia and, of course, asylum policy. It will look for opportunities to block the EU and throw sand in the gears wherever possible. The country will change its European character and will no longer be the constructive, reliable partner that Germany in particular has generally been able to rely on.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Cooperation with the PVV no longer taboo

Whether or not Wilders becomes prime minister is not the key issue here, writes NRC:

“It's not just that Wilders as prime minister is controversial among the voters of [his potential coalition partners] NSC and VVD. Wilders himself knows how important it is to keep his parliamentary group in check. The PVV is a one-man organisation. ... And now that most of its 37 members are inexperienced MPs he is needed there more than in a cabinet. ... The three other parties are prepared to join a majority government with the PVV as the largest party. That was unthinkable until only recently. From now on, governing under the PVV is no longer taboo in The Hague.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Last chance for a right-wing coalition

The road to government is still long and winding, De Volkskrant comments:

“Wilders' decision can also be seen as the ultimate sacrifice to make a right-wing government possible despite everything. At the same time, it offers the PVV leader the opportunity to continue as head of his parliamentary group. ... But the four right-wing parties still have some hurdles to overcome. The financial framework in particular could still cause problems. ... That the parties are now negotiating once more is mainly due to the fact that there is no alternative. ... No one wants new elections.”