Four party leaders and deputies to start new round of Cabinet formation talks

December 19, 2023  –THE HAGUE – Political leaders Geert Wilders from the PVV, Dilan Yeşilgöz (VVD), Pieter Omtzigt (NSC) and Caroline van der Plas (BBB) will continue discussing the formation of a right-wing Cabinet on Tuesday afternoon. It will be the first conversation in an informal, “short information round” that politician Ronald Plasterk has been assigned to organize in the coming weeks. 

Few details regarding the content of the discussions in the coming weeks will actually be released to the public, Plasterk and Wilders warned last Thursday. In Wilders’ words, “a moment of radio silence” is beginning. The party leaders will each be joined by a prominent member from their parties to serve as a second voice in the talks. This will include Fleur Agema for the PVV, VVD member Sophie Hermans, Eddy van Hijum from NSC and Mona Keijzer from BBB. 

The four party leaders have sat around the table with each other more often in recent weeks and in varying formats. The conclusion after those exploratory discussions was that there is a substantive basis for cooperation, but that the concerns from the NSC need to be addressed before talks can continue to a more substantive form. In particular, the NSC raised issue with the PVV’s consideration for the “rule of law,” and whether the far right party’s stances violate provisions of the Dutch constitution regarding equality, human rights, discrimination and freedom of religion. The concerns must first be dispelled before formal talks can begin. 

The parties have given themselves until the beginning of February for this “short information round.” After the discussions about the rule of law, important social issues are also on the table. In addition to immigration, migration and asylum, subjects where the parties do share some common ground, they will need to discuss issues related to social security, the climate and public finances. 

Plasterk, who acted as a Cabinet formation discussion leader, was subsequently appointed to serve as the informateur guiding this round of informal talks. The former Labour party prominent said he believes that the four parties more or less owe it to the voters to come together to form a right-wing Cabinet. That would do justice to the election results, according to the former Labour minister, who also previously emphasized that “the country must be governed”. 

Agema has been with Wilders since he formed the PVV, and has been in the Tweede Kamer for nine years. Hermans previously led her party’s Tweede Kamer faction. Eddy van Hijum spent a decade as a Member of Parliament, and another decade as a provincial politician in Overijssel, all of which was with the CDA before leaving to join Omtzigt’s NSC party. Keijzer was a CDA member when she served as the state secretary for economic affairs and climate policy on Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s third Cabinet. 

She was fired from that position for opposing the Cabinet’s Covid-19 access pass system during the coronavirus pandemic, and joined the BBB in the run-up to elections this summer. 

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