THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- The Netherlands appeared to be heading toward talks to form a minority coalition after efforts to piece together a Cabinet made up of five parties from across the political spectrum broke down Tuesday.
The decision by caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte's conservative People's Party for Freedom and Democracy — known by its Dutch acronym VVD — and the CDA Christian Democrats came after months of talks between party leaders and an official who is attempting to cobble together the coalition.
Jesse Klaver, leader of the Green Left party, said Rutte's refusal to talk “did not fit in the Dutch tradition” of multi-party coalition negotiations.
“Democracy is the loser today,” he said.
Klaver's Greens had agreed to form a bloc in a new Cabinet with the Labor Party, but Rutte rejected the idea, apparently fearing that a Cabinet made up of five parties would lead to an unstable government.
“It's a great shame,” said Labor leader Lilianne Ploumen. “I would have really liked to negotiate with the VVD and CDA about, for example, raising the minimum wage.”
Rutte, who has led a caretaker administration with limited powers since the March 17 election, said he would reach out to the left-leaning parties on issues such as climate change, emissions and education, “but ... not in a five-party Cabinet.”
Rutte has served three terms as Dutch prime minister and could become the country's longest-serving leader if he leads the next government.
Sigrid Kaag, leader of the centrist D66 party that emerged as the second largest party following the election, said it is now up to Rutte “to find a way out of this deadlock.”
Talks to form the next Dutch government are expected to continue for weeks.
Anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders didn't want to wait for more negotiations and tweeted a call for a new election.