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Edith Schippers hands over cabinet talks to new chief negotiator

THE NETHERLANDS. Efforts to form a new Dutch cabinet took a new turn on Monday when Edith Schippers, who has led the talks so far, said she wanted to hand the job over to a new negotiator.

Schippers, who said on Friday that a minority cabinet is looming, says Herman Tjeenk Willink, a Labour party stalwart and former chairman of the Council of State advisory panel should take over and lead the discussions from now on.

Tjeenk Willink (75) helped negotiate previous cabinets in 1994, 1999 and 2010. He is also a friend of the former queen Beatrix and one of her closest advisors.

In her final report, handed over to parliament on Monday, Schippers said there were objections to every potential coalition and that this meant she had completed her task.

Tjeenk Willink, who has said he is willing to take on the job, must start by asking different combinations of parties to the negotiating table immediately, the former health minister said.

The results of the election have created a complicated situation, Schippers said. ‘The result demands a formation process which will take time. Parties have to take a step towards the others because there are wide differences in policy.’


However, Schippers refused to talk of deadlock. ‘Standpoints have been taken but they could change in the next phase,’ she said.

The Netherlands has been without a government since March 15 when the general election was held. Two attempts to form a new government have failed so far.

The VVD emerged as the biggest party with 33 seats, followed by the anti-immigration PVV on 20, and CDA and D66 on 19. The big parties have all ruled out working together with Geert Wilders’ PVV unless he takes back discriminatory comments about Moroccans.

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