Wilders: Dutch coalition talks ignore his 1.3 million voters

AP News
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Posted: Mar 22, 2017 9:04 AM
Wilders: Dutch coalition talks ignore his 1.3 million voters

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders said Wednesday that political parties discussing the makeup of the next Dutch ruling coalition are shutting him out and sidelining 1.3 million people who voted for his party in last week's parliamentary elections.

"I regret it seriously," Wilders said. "It should not happen and I think that many people will not understand it."

Wilders spoke after meeting with caretaker Health Minister Edith Schippers, who is holding talks this week about which parties should be involved in discussions to form the next government. Following last week's vote, at least four parties will have to join forces to command a majority in the 150-seat lower house of Parliament.

Two-term Prime Minister Mark Rutte's conservative VVD party won the most seats and is expected to lead the next coalition. Wilders' Party for Freedom came second, but Rutte and the leader of the Christian Democrats have ruled out working with him.

Both parties made clear before the March 15 vote that they wouldn't work with Wilders, whose one-page manifesto included pledges to de-Islamize the Netherlands by barring immigration from Muslim nations, shutting mosques and banning Islam's holy book the Quran.

Rutte also had said he couldn't trust Wilders to take tough decisions in office, because Wilders brought down Rutte's first coalition in 2012 by refusing to approve a tough austerity package. At the time, Wilders wasn't part of Rutte's minority government, but had agreed to support it on important votes.

Coalition talks will continue Thursday with Schippers meeting Rutte and leaders of the Christian Democrats, the social democratic D66 party and socialist Green Left to discuss them forming a Cabinet.