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Wilders-Led Dutch Government Is at Risk Over Constitutional Concern

(Bloomberg) -- Geert Wilders’ path to forming a government has been hindered by disagreements over constitutional guarantees, the lead Dutch coalition negotiator said.

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The distance between far-right politician Wilders’ Freedom Party’s views on constitutional safeguards and Pieter Omtzigt’s New Social Contract is “too great” to participate in a majority government, lead negotiator Ronald Plasterk highlighted in a report published Monday. Wilders in November appointed Plasterk to explore options for forming a new cabinet.

“This does not take away from the fact that reaching an agreement is not out of the question and could very well be achieved,” Plasterk said in the report.

Plasterk suggested inviting new parties to another round of negotiations and to investigate other forms of government including a minority option. The findings of the report will be debated in the lower house of parliament Wednesday.

The Nov. 22 election in the Netherlands led to an unexpected outcome with the Freedom Party securing 37 seats, more than polls had forecast. Since then Wilders, known for his anti-Islam views, has been trying to cobble together a 76-seat majority in parliament.

Plasterk was tasked with negotiating a right-wing coalition with Wilders’ party, Dilan Yesilgoz-Zegerius’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, Omtzigt’s New Social Contract and the Farmer-Citizen Movement.

The leaders of the four parties met with Plasterk for nearly two months, to see if they could agree on guaranteeing the constitution, fundamental rights as well crucial issues such as migration, international policy, climate goals and nitrogen. Wilders in turn withdrew plans to ban the Koran, along with some other controversial bills he had proposed, as he tried to forge a comprise.

Read more: Dutch Risk Fresh Election After Wilders Hits Coalition Block

Negotiations hit a stumbling block when center-right party New Social Contract, whose support is key for Wilders’ prime ministerial ambitions, last week walked out of that round of formation talks. Omtzigt had left open the possibility of supporting a minority government that rests on external votes. He urged the three other parties to form a minority government, public broadcaster NOS said on Monday.

--With assistance from April Roach.

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