Europe

Dutch coalition talks collapse as Geert Wilders quits

Geert Wilders leave a news conference in The Hague (3 Sept 2010)
Image caption Mr Wilders said his trust in the CDA was at "an all-time low"

Negotiations to form a coalition in the Netherlands have collapsed after the leader of the far-right Freedom Party, Geert Wilders, walked out.

Mr Wilders said he did not trust some members of the Christian Democrats to adhere to any agreement reached.

Some Christian Democrats have expressed deep reservations about any deal with Mr Wilders because of his strong anti-Islamic and anti-immigration views.

The collapse comes three months after an inconclusive general election.

The Netherlands has been without a government since the previous coalition collapsed in February.

Controversial

"The negotiations did not succeed," Mark Rutte, leader of the centre-right Liberal Party (VVD), told a news conference at the Hague.

The VVD narrowly won the elections in June but did not have a majority. They had hoped the negotations, which began on 9 August, would enable them to form a rightist coalition government with Mr Wilder's Freedom Party (PVV) and the Christian Democrats (CDA).

The PVV, which doubled its seats in the election, would not have formally joined the coalition but would have given it the support to get decisions through parliament.

But some members of the CDA had raised concerns about entering into an agreement with Mr Wilders because of his controversial far-right views.

He has campaigned to stop the "Islamisation of the Netherlands" and faces a criminal trial later this year on charges of inciting hatred and discrimination with his anti-Islamic film Fitna.

Mr Wilders told reporters he was leaving the talks because his party's trust in the CDA had "declined to an all-time low".

"The Netherlands needs a stable government. Our view is that the CDA cannot give enough guarantees to provide that stability," he said.

"We really wanted to be able to support a stable government. Instead, we will play our role as the biggest opposition party."

Mr Rutte said he respected Mr Wilders' decision but did not agree with it.

"I regret too ... that this political co-operation is not possible," he said.

Analysts say it is now highly unlikely that a coalition will be finalised before the caretaker government must present the budget on 21 September.

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