On Thursday evening Edith Schippers announced that government formation talks between the VVD, CDA, D66 and GroenLinks collapsed. The parties could not agree on a migration policy, and there were problems agreeing to issues concerning climate change, sustainability and income equality. In front of the cameras all four party leaders said they were disappointed in the mutual decision to stop the negotiations, but behind the scenes it is said that GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver surprised the others by walking away, NRC reports.
All four “stumbling blocks” are points on which GroenLinks feels strongly. According to NRC, the end came due to GroenLinks’ refusal to accept making an agreement on asylum seekers with African countries. The agreement is similar to the so-called Turkey asylum deal – money for shelter in the region in return for the African countries agreeing to keep asylum seekers there, not letting them travel to Europe.
In a statement on Facebook, Klaver thanked his colleagues in the other three parties for their sincere attempt to bridge the differences between them. “But unfortunately it did not work. Our commitment was change. We want to reduce the income disparities, the most ambitious climate police and a humane refugee policy. On the last point the substantive differences eventually turned out to be too large.” the GroenLinks leader wrote. “Our struggle for change continues. We will continue to work for a fairer, empathetic and more humane Netherlands. Whether inside the cabinet or without.”
Political parties outside the negotiations aren’t surprised that the talks stranded.
PvdA leader Lodewijk Asscher wants clarity on what happened. “The polarization in society, the uncertainty on the labor market and the necessity for a more social economy require answers from a new cabinet. That is why it is important that the negotiators honestly explain why it did not succeed after two months”, the departing Deputy Prime Minister said to newspaper AD. That explanation must include more than “disappointment” and “migration”, he added.
PVV leader Geert Wilders is delighted. “Very good news. No GroenLinks”, he wrote on Twitter, adding: “The PVV as second party in the Netherlands is completely available.”
SGP leader Kees van der Saaij is not surprised. “The collapse of the negotiations is understandable. Too many large differences on main subjects. Curious about the final report and hopefully soon debate.” he said on Twitter.
ChristenUnie leader Gert-Jan Segers will await more information before responding. “Negotiations have failed. The report of the mediator [Schippers] and a debate about it will be necessary to find out why.” Many speculate that ChristenUnie will take GroenLinks’ place at the formation table
SP leader Emile Roemer also called it “no surprise that the formation failed, given the enormous differences between VVD, CDA, D66 and GroenLinks.” He also demanded quick clarity about why it went wrong and who is to blame. “Explanation from Schippers and a quick debate is needed. A new round of negotiations is coming, and it can take a long time. As far as I’m concerned, we will not just sit and wait but get started quickly to address acute problems of people.”
Negotiation mediator Edith Schippers will soon send a report to the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, on exactly what happened with the negotiations.