Europe

Dutch party gives nod to coalition deal with Wilders

  • 2 October 2010
  • From the section Europe
From left, Geert Wilders, Mark Rutte and Maxime Verhagen in The Hague. 30 Sept 2010
Image caption Party leaders, from left, Geert Wilders, Mark Rutte and Maxime Verhagen, have reached agreement

A pact to allow Dutch centre-right parties to form a government with the support of anti-Islamist populist Geert Wilders has cleared another hurdle.

The Christian Democrats (CDA) ratified the deal at a meeting on Saturday by 68% in favour, with 32% opposed.

As part of its programme, the government will ban the full Islamic veil in the Netherlands, parties say.

However, two CDA lawmakers remain opposed and could yet derail the deal when MPs vote on it later this week.

The agreement, which ends months of deadlock, includes plans for budget cuts of 18bn euros ($24bn; £15bn) by 2015; curbs on immigration; and an increase in the number of police officers.

The Liberals (VVD) and CDA, which hold 52 seats in the 150-member parliament, would rely on Mr Wilders' 24 Freedom Party (PVV) MPs to get legislation passed.

"We want to give the country back to the working Dutch citizen," said Liberal leader and Prime Minister-designate Mark Rutte on Friday.

CDA leader Maxime Verhagen described it as a "very good governing agreement".

"I am convinced that it is an agreement that every Christian Democrat will be able to identify with," he said.

The deal has angered some CDA MPs who do not want to work with Mr Wilders.

He goes on trial in Amsterdam on Monday on charges of inciting hatred with his film Fitna (division).

The film juxtaposes the Muslim holy book, the Koran, with the 9/11 attacks in which nearly 3,000 people in the US were killed in 2001.

The Netherlands has been run by a caretaker government since February when a coalition led by the CDA's former leader, Jan Peter Balkenende, collapsed after a row over military involvement in Afghanistan.

June's general election delivered a surge of support for the Freedom Party, which won the third biggest share of the seats.

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