The Dutch pro-business Liberal party, which has a one-seat lead after parliamentary elections, is considering a coalition with the far-right, anti-Muslim Party of Freedom, according to Liberal leader Mark Rutte.
Every one wants to know what Rutte's next move will be
The Netherlands' pro-business Liberal party was "intensively" debating the possibility of forming a coalition with the anti-Muslim Party of Freedom, said the leader of the Liberals, Mark Rutte, on Friday.
Rutte met with the country's Queen Beatrix on Friday, informing her of the possibilities he sees for building a majority coalition after Dutch voters elected a fractured parliament on earlier this week. Rutte told reporters outside of the queen's palace in The Hague that he expected coalition talks to be "very complicated," but that he would be able to form a government and become prime minister.
The Party of Freedom saw the biggest gains in the election, jumping from nine seats to 24 and into third place. The Liberals won 31 seats out of the 150 in parliament, only one seat more than the Labor Party.
Stuck between a rock and a hard place
Rutte said his party had great reservations about governing with the Labor Party. The Liberals are currently in talks with the Party of Freedom and with the Christian Democrats who had led the last government but dropped to fourth place with only 22 seats after the polls.
Wilders anti-Muslim comments have won him followers and death threats
The Party of Freedom, also known as the PVV, is led by the outspoken Geert Wilders. The party's policies include putting an end to immigration from Muslim countries and a ban on the Koran or the construction of new mosques.
Asked whether he would meet with Wilders, Rutte said discussions had yet to get that far.
"We must in the first place look carefully at the possibility of allowing the PVV to take part in such a coalition," he said. "What is important for me is that we want to take part in a government which will effectively take the economic recovery in hand."
Queen Beatrix also met with the other leaders of the elected parties, including Job Cohen, head of the Labor party. Cohen may also be attempting to build his own coalition government. Beatrix is now set to appoint an envoy to facilitate communication between the involved parties. Negotiations are expected to take weeks if not months and analysts say fresh elections could be called within a year.
This week's election was triggered by the collapse of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's center-left coalition over the country's involvement in Afghanistan.
Author: Holly Fox (AFP/AP/dpa)
Editor: Chuck Penfold