Dutch parties to discuss coalition
The leaders of the two largest parties to emerge from the Dutch parliamentary elections have confirmed they will discuss forming a coalition government.
Caretaker prime minister Mark Rutte said he wants to investigate forming a ruling coalition between his free-market VVD party and the centre-left Labour Party.
Labour leader Diederik Samsom agreed, though both leaders said one or more extra parties could be involved in a coalition that would attempt to span the divide between left and right in Dutch politics.
"It will be a complicated formation but the voter has spoken," Mr Rutte said.
The VVD won 41 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives while Labour has 38.
Mr Rutte and Mr Samsom stated their preferences after meeting former social affairs minister Henk Kamp to discuss the formation of the next coalition.
Mr Kamp is preparing a report on possible coalitions ahead of a debate in parliament next Thursday. He is scheduled to see the leaders of all other parties. They are expected to advise him to look first at a VVD-Labour government.
Mr Rutte and Mr Samsom are pro-Europe, but they will have to reach compromise on several policy points if they are to form a stable government. They might also want to involve a third party in the coalition because the VVD and Labour do not command a majority in the Dutch Senate, meaning it could be tough for them to pass legislation.
Mr Rutte said he is keen to form a stable coalition. His first administration, a minority coalition with the Christian Democrats and supported by populist anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders, survived just 18 months before Mr Wilders torpedoed it by refusing to support an austerity package aimed at reining in the government's budget deficit.
A splintered Dutch political landscape has led to five elections in a decade.