2010 Dutch cabinet formation
Following the Dutch general election of 2010
Dutch general election, 2010
The 2010 Dutch general election was held on Wednesday, 9 June 2010. After the fall of the cabinet Balkenende IV on 20 February, Queen Beatrix accepted the resignation of the Labour Party ministers on 23 February...

, held on June 9, a process of cabinet formation
Dutch cabinet formation
The formation of a Dutch cabinet is a time consuming process, which is for the most part not codified in the constitution.- Formation process :After the elections or the fall of a cabinet, a process of cabinet formation starts...

 started, which typically involves 3 phases:
  1. exploring with which parties to form a coalition
    A coalition is a pact or treaty among individuals or groups, during which they cooperate in joint action, each in their own self-interest, joining forces together for a common cause. This alliance may be temporary or a matter of convenience. A coalition thus differs from a more formal covenant...

  2. negotiating to draft a coalition agreement
    Coalition agreement
    In multiparty democracies, a coalition agreement is an agreement between the parties that form the cabinet. It codifies the most important goals and objectives of the cabinet. It is often written by the leaders of the parliamentary parties.-Examples:...

  3. dividing the posts in the new cabinet
    Cabinet of the Netherlands
    The cabinet of the Netherlands is the main executive body of the Dutch government. The current cabinet of the Netherlands is the Rutte cabinet.-Composition and role:...


Formation timeline

On June 10 and 11 the chairs of parliamentary parties (fractievoorzitters)
Parliamentary group leader
The leader or chairman of a parliamentary group holds an influential political post in a parliamentary system with strong party discipline...

 of the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) gave advice to the Queen on who should be appointed informateur
A formateur is a politician who is appointed by the head of state to lead the formation of a coalition government, after either a general election or the collapse of a previous government. The role of the formateur is especially important in the politics of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg,...

and who should be involved in the first information talks.
The leaders of the political parties with most seats indicated that an informateur from the VVD
People's Party for Freedom and Democracy
The People's Party for Freedom and Democracy is a conservative-liberal political party located in the Netherlands. The VVD supports private enterprise in the Netherlands and is often perceived as an economic liberal party in contrast to the social-liberal Democrats 66 alongside which it sits in...

, the largest party after the election, should investigate the possibility of a coalition with the PVV
Party for Freedom
The Party for Freedom is a Dutch right-wing political party. Founded in 2005 as the successor to Geert Wilders' one-man party in the House of Representatives, it won nine seats in the 2006 general election, making it the fifth largest party in parliament, and third largest opposition party. It...

, which achieved the biggest gain of seats.

Informateur Rosenthal

On June 12 Queen Beatrix
Beatrix of the Netherlands
Beatrix is the Queen regnant of the Kingdom of the Netherlands comprising the Netherlands, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, and Aruba. She is the first daughter of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands and Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld. She studied law at Leiden University...

 nominated Uri Rosenthal
Uri Rosenthal
Uriël "Uri" Rosenthal is a Dutch politician of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy . He is the Minister of Foreign Affairs since October 14, 2010 in the Cabinet Rutte. He served as a Member of the Senate from June 8, 1999 until October 14, 2010. And the Parliamentary leader in the Senate...

, chairman of the VVD in the Senate (Eerste Kamer), as informateur, in order to investigate, first, the possibility of a coalition containing VVD and PVV.

On June 14 Rosenthal met with all party leaders individually. Maxime Verhagen
Maxime Verhagen
Maxime Jacques Marcel Verhagen is a Dutch politician in the Christian Democratic Appeal party. He is the Minister of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation and Deputy Prime Minister since October 14, 2010 in the Cabinet Rutte.He previously served as a Member of the European Parliament for...

Christian Democratic Appeal
The Christian Democratic Appeal is a centre-right Dutch Christian democratic political party. It suffered severe losses in the 2010 elections and fell from the first to the fourth place...

) wanted VVD and PVV to bridge their mutual differences before joining in discussions between those two parties. After two days of joint talks with Mark Rutte
Mark Rutte
Mark Rutte is a Dutch politician who has been Prime Minister of the Netherlands since 14 October 2010, as well as Minister of General Affairs in the Rutte cabinet...

 (VVD) and Geert Wilders
Geert Wilders
Geert Wilders is a Dutch right-wing politician and leader of the Party for Freedom , the third-largest political party in the Netherlands. He is the Parliamentary group leader of his party in the Dutch House of Representatives...

 (PVV), and individually with the leaders of VVD, PVV and CDA, on June 17 Rosenthal had to conclude that a combination of these three parties was impossible.

On June 18 Rosenthal conferred subsequently with Job Cohen
Job Cohen
Marius Job Cohen is a Dutch social democratic politician and former legal scholar of Jewish background. Since 2010 he has been the leader of the Labour Party and since June 17, 2010 he has been a member of the House of Representatives, where he also is the Parliamentary group leader of the Labour...

 (PvdA), Maxime Verhagen (CDA), Alexander Pechtold
Alexander Pechtold
Alexander Pechtold is a Dutch politician of the Democrats 66 party. He has been a member of the House of Representatives since 30 November 2006 as well as Parliamentary group leader since 23 November 2006...

Democrats 66
Democrats 66 is a progressive and social-liberal political party in the Netherlands. D66 was formed in 1966 by a group of politically unaligned, young intellectuals, led by journalist Hans van Mierlo. The party's main objective was to democratise the political system; it proposed to create an...

), Femke Halsema
Femke Halsema
is a former Dutch politician. She was a member of the House of Representatives from 1998 till 2011. She was also the leader of the GreenLeft parliamentary party in the House of Representatives from 2002 till 2010.-Pre-political career:...

GreenLeft is a green political party operating in the Netherlands.GreenLeft was formed on 1 March 1989 as a merger of four left-wing political parties: the Communist Party of the Netherlands, Pacifist Socialist Party, the Political Party of Radicals and the Evangelical People's Party...

) and Mark Rutte (VVD). Two coalitions were possible with these parties: Purple-plus (Paars-plus)
Purple (government)
Purple is a common term in politics for governments or other political entities consisting of parties that have red and blue as their political colours...

 (VVD+PvdA+D66+GL) and a center-coalition of VVD+PvdA+CDA. Purple-plus was the preference of PvdA, D66 and GroenLinks, while Rutte was in favour of the center-coalition. At the end of the day informateur Rosenthal announced that he would explore the possibilities for Purple-plus, starting on Monday, June 21.

After one and a half day of discussions with Rutte, Cohen, Halsema and Pechtold, VVD-chair Mark Rutte announced on June 22 to see "no perspective for negotiations" for Purple-plus. Informateur Rosenthal subsequently invited Verhagen (CDA), Cohen (PvdA) and Rutte (VVD) for exploring the center-coalition, though this was ruled out by Cohen.

Cohen then suggested a rainbow coalition (VVD+PvdA+CDA+D66+GL) that combines both Purple-plus and center-coalition options, but was rejected by the leaders of D66 and GroenLinks, and the proposal was withdrawn.

Informateur Tjeenk Willink

On June 26, the Queen replaced Rosenthal with Herman Tjeenk Willink
Herman Tjeenk Willink
Herman Diederik Tjeenk Willink is a Dutch politician of the Labour Party .He was president of the Senate from 1991 until 1997. He was preceded by Piet Steenkamp and succeeded by Frits Korthals Altes. In 1997 he became vice-president of the Dutch Council of State, and therefore the most important...

, vice president of the Council of State
Dutch Council of State
In the Netherlands, the Council of State is a constitutionally established advisory body to the government which consists of members of the royal family and Crown-appointed members generally having political, commercial, diplomatic, or military experience...

, as informateur. Willink's appointment was unusual, as it went against the advice of Rosenthal and most party leaders involved in the talks, who preferred two informateurs, one from the VVD and one from the PvdA.

Rutte extended another invitation to the PVV to join the VVD and CDA in coalition talks, but Wilders rejected the offer on June 29 as the CDA was unwilling to enter negotiations at the onset, instead of waiting for the VVD and PVV to conclude their talks first, extinguishing the likelihood that a right-wing VVD-PVV-CDA cabinet can be formed.

On July 5, Willink reported to the Queen that the VVD, PvdA, D66 and GroenLinks parties were prepared to enter negotiations to form a Purple-plus government.

Informateurs Rosenthal and Wallage

The Queen appointed Rosenthal and Jacques Wallage
Jacques Wallage
Jacques Wallage is a Dutch politician of Jewish descent. He has been the mayor of the city of Groningen from October 1, 1998 until June 25, 2009....

 as new informateurs after Willink's report. The parties agreed to secrecy while negotiations are being held, but newspaper reports have suggested that an agreement would be focus on a small set of common policies while leaving flexibility to negotiate with non-government parties, and the likely cabinet would have eight to ten ministers (3 VVD, 3 PvdA, 1 D66, 1 GL in case of eight ministers).

On July 20, VVD, PvdA, D66 and GroenLinks concluded that there was no basis to continue to negotiate a purple-plus coalition. Negotiations were aborted. It was concluded that the positions of the VVD and the PvdA on cutbacks and housing market reform were too far apart. The next day Rosenthal and Wallage reported to the Queen that the formation of a purple-plus government was impossible, throwing the formation wide open again.

Informateur Lubbers

Later on July 21, the Queen consulted her advisers and also sought advise from one of her Ministers of State
Minister of State (Netherlands)
The Minister of State is an honorary title in the Netherlands. The title is formally granted together with the style Excellency, by the Monarch, but on the initiative of the cabinet of the Netherlands. It is given on a personal basis, for life rather than for a specified period. The title is...

, Ruud Lubbers
Ruud Lubbers
Rudolphus Franciscus Marie "Ruud" Lubbers is a retired Dutch politician of the Christian Democratic Appeal . He served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from November 4, 1982 until August 22, 1994....

 (CDA), who was subsequently named informateur. Lubbers was assigned the task to investigate anew the possibilities for the formation of a majority government
Majority government
A majority government is when the governing party has an absolute majority of seats in the legislature or parliament in a parliamentary system. This is as opposed to a minority government, where even the largest party wins only a plurality of seats and thus must constantly bargain for support from...

 and to check for the sincerity and persistence of obstacles and vetos that different parties have created about each other's participation in government. The next few days Lubbers held talks with all chairs of the parliamentary parties in order to find common ground.

During the explorations of Lubbers, a preliminary agreement was reached. For the first time in political history, The Netherlands might be governed by a minority cabinet supported by a third party outside the government. There would be two contracts drawn up: the actual government agreement between VVD and CDA and a so-called "gedoogakkoord" (tolerance agreement) between the cabinet and PVV. The agreement would handle matters such as immigration, integration, asylum, and law and order. This means there could be agreements on issues raised especially by the PVV in its campaign, like family reunification, on newcomers paying into social security before being eligible to receive it. Even more controversially regulations on the clothing of civil servants could be introduced – which means headscarves and other religious symbols might be banned in the civil service. Informateur Lubbers called it a “special majority cabinet” rather than a minority government.

Informateur Opstelten

On August 5, 2010, VVD Chairman Ivo Opstelten
Ivo Opstelten
Ivo Willem Opstelten is a Dutch politician of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy . He is the Minister of Security and Justice in the Cabinet Rutte since October 14, 2010....

, the former mayor of Utrecht
Utrecht is a city in the Netherlands.The name may also refer to:* Utrecht , of which Utrecht is the capital* Utrecht , including the city of Utrecht* Bishopric of Utrecht* Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Utrecht...

 and Rotterdam
Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands and one of the largest ports in the world. Starting as a dam on the Rotte river, Rotterdam has grown into a major international commercial centre...

, was appointed by the Dutch queen as the new mediator in the next stage of actual negotiations to form a cabinet. On August 9, 2010, talks on forming a minority government with VVD and CDA supported by the PVV in parliament began. The three party leaders were each accompanied by a colleague. Mark Rutte (VVD) had Edith Schippers
Edith Schippers
Edith Ingeborg Schippers is a Dutch politician of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy , and was elected as deputy party leader in 2006. She was a Member of the House of Representatives from 2003 until 2010. On October 14, 2010 she became Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport.-References:...

 MP with him, Maxime Verhagen (CDA) was accompanied by caretaker health minister Ab Klink
Ab Klink
Abraham Klink is a former Dutch politician of Christian Democratic Appeal . He was Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport in the Fourth Balkenende cabinet.-External links: , Parlement & Politiek...

 and Geert Wilders (PVV) chose Barry Madlener
Barry Madlener
Barry Madlener is a Dutch politician of the Party for Freedom . He is the Parliamentary leader of the Party for Freedom in the European Parliament since July 14, 2009. He was a Member of the House of Representatives from November 30, 2006 until July 14, 2009.-Early life:Madlener grew up in the...

 MEP. Opstelten repeated that he expected a resolution in about three weeks.

Members of the CDA resisted to the negotiations of their party leader with the PVV. On August 12, 2010, a group of 44 members published an open letter in the Christian daily newspaper Trouw
Trouw is a Dutch daily newspaper. "Trouw" is a Dutch word meaning "fidelity", "loyalty", or "allegiance", and is cognate with the English adjective "true"...

, opposing any coalition partnership with the PVV, accusing the party of stigmatising minorities: "In its political statements and electoral platform, the PVV has gone against many of our fundamental rights, notably the right to equal treatment and the right to freely practice religion according to one's beliefs... The PVV stigmatises a large minority of our population and in fact makes it the scapegoat of nearly all our social problems. The PVV is not only a threat to the freedom of Muslims, but to our rule of law and our freedom." The protests within CDA grew, and on 29 August a group of influential CDA members led by Cees Veerman
Cees Veerman
Cornelis Pieter Veerman is a Dutch politician of the Christian Democratic Appeal. He served as Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality from July 22, 2002 until February 22, 2007.-Early life:...

 appealed their party to stop negotiations. On 31 August and 1 September CDA MP Ab Klink
Ab Klink
Abraham Klink is a former Dutch politician of Christian Democratic Appeal . He was Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport in the Fourth Balkenende cabinet.-External links: , Parlement & Politiek...

, who was part of the negotiating delegation protested the negotiations. The negotiations were paused and the CDA MP's spent most of August 31 and September 1 discussing their position. On September 1 a letter by Ab Klink outlining his grave misgivings over the negotiations was leaked, complicating the effort at finding a solution within the CDA. Nevertheless, the result of the discussion was that negotiations would be resumed with Ab Klink resigning from the delegation and the CDA congress giving an important ruling after an agreement was reached. On September 2 Mark Rutte and Geert Wilders carefully considered the new situation with open dissidents in the (usually agreeing) CDA. On Friday 3 September, Geert Wilders left the negotiations when the CDA could not guarantee that the dissident CDA MP's would vote for any agreement; a guarantee that Maxime Verhagen, the leader of the CDA delegation, could not give as according to the Dutch constitution MP's are elected on personal title and should in all cases be free and unimpeded to vote according to their own judgment. On Saturday 4 September, Ivo Opstelten handed in his final report reporting failure to form a government to the Queen.

Informateur Tjeenk Willink (2)

On September 6, 2010, Ab Klink decided to step down as MP because of the situation of the CDA. From September 7 on, he is replaced by Raymond Knops
Raymond Knops
Raymond Willem Knops is a Dutch politician and former officer. As a member of the Christian Democratic Appeal he was an MP from October 11, 2005 to November 30, 2006, from March 1, 2007 to June 17, 2010 and is currently an MP since September 7, 2010, succeeding Ab Klink...


On September 7, the PVV said that they wanted to continue the negotiations with VVD and CDA because of Klink's departure. VVD and CDA also wanted to continue. Later that day, Mark Rutte went to the queen to discuss the new situation. After that, the queen once again appointed Herman Tjeenk Willink as informateur. He will speak with all of the party leaders about how the formation should proceed.

On September 13, Tjeenk Willink finished his report in which he advised to continue the negotiations between VVD, PVV and CDA.
On the same day, Ivo Opstelten was re-appointed as informateur.

Informateur Opstelten (2)

After Ivo Opstelten was again appointed as informateur, he immediately restarted the negotiations between VVD, PVV and CDA.The CDA was internally deeply divided over cooperation with the PVV and several high profile members, like Ernst Hirsch Ballin
Ernst Hirsch Ballin
Ernst Maurits Henricus Hirsch Ballin is a Dutch politician of the Christian Democratic Appeal . He served as Minister of Justice and Minister for Suriname and Netherlands Antilles Affairs from November 7, 1989 until May 27, 1994 in the Cabinet Lubbers III...

 oppposed it. On September 28, the negotiations were finished. A coalition agreement was reached between CDA and VVD, and a "toleration agreement" (a novelty in Dutch politics) was reached between PVV and the other two parties.
On October 14th 2010, the Rutte cabinet was sworn in by the queen.
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