AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Dutch political parties said on Monday they had reached an agreement paving the way for caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte to form his fourth consecutive government almost nine months after elections.
The coalition will consist of the four parties that have been in power since 2017, but it took the longest such talks in Dutch history to bring them back together after the March 17 elections produced an inconclusive result.
Talks dragged on for a record 271 days as parties failed to even move beyond the question of who would be allowed at the negotiation table, following a failed no-confidence vote in Rutte in April.
The elections were won by the conservative VVD party led by Rutte, who has been prime minister since 2010 and who is now the longest serving government leader in the EU together with Hungary’s Viktor Orban.
But with only 22% of the vote, Rutte needs the support of the pro-EU D66, the Christian Democratic CDA and the orthodox Christian Union (CU) to secure a majority in parliament.
Policy highlights will include spending to address the country’s structural housing shortage, subsidies for child care, and higher spending on healthcare and schools, according to media reports.
The new government is also expected to spend billions on measures to fight climate change, as the Netherlands has constantly missed its climate goals over the years and is still among the countries with the highest CO2 emissions per capita in the European Union.
The government pact is expected to be presented in detail on Wednesday, after which Rutte will likely be tasked to form his new cabinet, which should be installed by early next year.
(Reporting by Bart Meijer and Toby Sterling; editing by Philippa Fletcher, Kirsten Donovan and Giles Elgood)