Breaking news from the negotiations for a new Dutch cabinet: ‘Cabinet talks on verge of collapse’.
Talks on forming a right-wing cabinet between the VVD Liberals, Christian Democrats and anti-Islam PVV are on the verge of collapse on Tuesday evening because of divisions within the CDA, various media report.
According to news agency ANP, CDA number two Ab Klink wants to call a halt or says he will leave the party over its plans to link up with the PVV. The agency bases its claims on inside sources.
Klink, the current health minister, has been at the negotiating table for the past few sessions. Party leader Maxime Verhagen wants to press ahead with the talks, ANP said.
On Tuesday, the formal negotiations were stopped to allow CDA MPs to hold a meeting to discuss developments so far.
Over the past few weeks, a number of senior CDA members have come out against the party joining forces with Wilders because of his calls for ethnic registration and an end to immigration from Muslim countries.
Minister Ab Klink was featured on KV before, most notably in relation to the resistance against the EUnion mandated smoking ban and the rather totalitarian notion of mandatory consultation for parents with a child wish. These two links should give a an idea of the measure of the man. Apparently he has now openly sided with the small but loud left wing squadrons of fossilized has-beens of the CDA that see Geert Wilders and the PVV as evil incarnate.
The exact reason for the differences of opinion between Klink and chief negotiator Maxime Verhagen are yet unknown. According to De Volkskrant (NL) Klink feels the negotiations are progressing too fast, with the CDA conceding too much. Which coming from a party that lost a third of its seats may be a bit presumptuous.
Be that as it may, with the CDA fraction and the negotiations now throw in turmoil, it seems that the left wing fossils have finally reached their goal: The possibility of a Danish cabinet blown out of the water.
But what they may not reckon with, or so it seems: They will have destroyed the CDA as a credible force in Dutch politics with it. Earlier Elsevier reported that up to 80% of the CDA membership support the formation of a ‘Danish’ cabinet. These members (and voters!) will not be happy and a lot of them will find refuse with parties that do represent their views: The VVD and the PVV.
In the polls the CDA stands at an historic low of 15 seats. Should the negotiations fail, that number will have only but one way to go: Down. The party is committing suicide. Or rather, it is being actively euthanised by those in its family that have betrayed its christian principles for the politics of power. Sic transit gloria mundi, I guess.
[UPDATE001 Wed 1 – 9, 0:00 CET] No resolution yet. But at least the plug hasn’t been pulled. Tomorrow at noon the CDA fraction will reconvene (NL). If you are so inclined, say a little prayer for our small, damp corner of the world.
[UPDATE002 Wed 1 – 9, 7:54 CET] According to De Telegraaf (NL) it was ex-PM Ruud Lubbers (our international audience may know him as the ex-UN big potato who had to leave his post after allegations of sexual misconduct. Even though the equally loathsome Kofi Anan tried to cover for him) and current Justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin (internationally famous for lifting from his bed and prosecuting Dutch cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot) that pressured Ab Klink into throwing the negotiations into disarray. This is the quality of the people that are evidently trying to save Holland and the CDA by destroying it.
[UPDATE003 Wed 1 – 9,11:24 CET] There are rumblings of a more positive tone. De Telegraaf (NL) reports that large numbers of CDA functionaries are calling for the continuation of the negotiations. Two of the current CDA heavy hitters, our intrepid (former) PM Jan-Peter Balkenende and minister Piet-Hein Donner are supporting Verhagen, and not Klink.
In De Pers, Kustaw Bessems (NL) describes the aftermath of the meeting last night: Klink left by his lonesome, two of his allies in the fraction briskly walked out, with storm on their faces, while Verhagen was happily enjoying a beer with colleagues. On the basis of that you’d say that whatever happened last night (Bessems suggests a palace coup by Klink to conquer fraction leadership) Verhagen came out on top. Indeed, this is what Joshua Livestro (NL) is twittering: Klink has gambled and lost. He had one chance last night to force a decision. He failed and now he is finished.
I hope Livestro is right… We’ll know more in another couple of hours.
[UPDATE004 Wed 1 – 9,23:34 CET] A couple of hours that are stretching into the coming day. There’s a lot going on, but all of it really of little substance. The CDA fraction met. But the meeting broke up after half an hour to make way for some ‘intense’ bilateral meetings between Verhagen and individual fraction members.
In the mean time Klink wrote a letter, which was promptly leaked (pdf; NL), detailing his objections to continued negotiations. The gist of it: He accuses Geert Wilders pre-emptively of going to explain any measure to limit migration in terms of ‘de-islamisation’, thereby forcing the CDA in the defensive and ‘unbinding’ Dutch society. Wilders vehemently denied the caricature that was drawn of him in the letter, while both Verhagen and and the VVD have said the letter does not do Wilders justice (If you read Dutch: Afsin Ellian posted a brilliant take down of the Klink letter on Elsevier; NL).
The latest is that minister Piet-Hein Donner has entered the fray as a mediator in an ultimate attempt to re-unify the fraction. Local chapters of the CDA have said that *if* the CDA fraction drops out of the negotiations now, a party conference must be held (NL) next Saturday. A conference where probably heads will be put on the block and mercilessly chopped off. CDA fraction leader for the province of Limburg, Geert Frische is adamant: “The party elite may want one thing, but we are down in the dirt every day and we see there is a lot of support for a right wing cabinet”.
Whether the CDA will make the Danish cabinet a reality, or not is still up in the air. But the way things are shaping up indicate that irrespective of the outcome, after this thing is over the CDA grass-roots will be out to rid the party of dead wood. And about bloody time too!
[FINAL UPDATE] Victory for Verhagen: CDA crisis over for now, coalition talks with PVV to continue. Klink will stay on as fraction member, but I doubt that after this stunt we will see him again as a minister or state-secretary. No doubt Klink is looking into his retirement arrangements this morning.