Before the election, VVD leader Rutte was sure: “I‘m not going to have a whole left-wing cloud of parties at the table.” And since then, his party has been there. For more than five months it has been: no more left than necessary at the negotiating table. The members consultations of GroenLinks and the PvdA today do not change that, it seems.
VVD and CDA have said they have not wanted to be in a five-party cabinet with PvdA and GroenLinks since the formation started, because only four parties are needed for a majority. An additional party would make the coalition unnecessarily unstable is fear. And unnecessary links.
PvdA and GroenLinks in turn have been saying that they are not going to rule without each other. In November, the two joined each other and then consistently the message was: we rule together or we don’t.
At the table anyway
Shortly after the resumption of the formation, less than two weeks ago, Klaver and Ploumen took another scoop on top of it. The two left-wing parties said to do the formation all together. Not a real fraction or party merger, but a formative merger, with one negotiating team and one negotiating goal. With that, the left-wing duo VVD and CDA hoped to move to the table with them anyway.
For the screens there was no response from VVD and CDA to this intended collaboration. Was the left cloud objection gone with the joint formation team? Was a cabinet with GroenLinks and PvdA an option to investigate? Rutte and Hoekstra were silent.
Behind the scenes, the two parties did release a little over the past few weeks. Namely: no chance of it‘s going to happen, but for the real strike, we wait for them to have their member consultations.
They were today. At GroenLinks it was called a conversation, in which party leader Klaver said that the “arrogance of power” should be broken through cooperation with PvdA. Many members who spoke seemed to agree.
At the PvdA it was more than just a conversation. There was a vote and more than 90 percent proved to be for a joint formation team with shared goals. Party leader Ploumen was combative: “We should try to pull those right-wing guests to the left.”
Two groups, two parties
But the right-wing guests are really “refusal politicians” (as Klaver and Ploumen like to call them) when it comes to formating with the left bloc. Because behind the scenes sounds ‘no‘ again. A joint formation team doesn’t go far enough for them; they remain two groups of two parties.
It is expected that the ‘no’ will be pronounced in front of the screens, unless the left-wing parties suddenly want to take an extra step in terms of merger plans. If not, the formation continues without them.
The next stop to stop is a continuation of the current coalition of VVD, D66, CDA and ChristenUnie. But this will veto D66, is expected. That party is keen to work with PvdA and GroenLinks, but not with the Christian Union, for example because of medical-ethical differences. And so that option will be stripped away is expected.
Remains: a minority cabinet. That could be VVD-D66, but also with CDA as a third party. After all, that is Rutte‘s formation favorite, and D66 has never blocked the party in recent months.
Although it should be said that Kaag has preferred, if it has to be with a minority, to do it without the CDA. So that’s not a matter done yet.