Geert Wilders taps 2 new officials to lead the next round of coalition talks after his election win

FILE - Geert Wilders, leader of the far-right party PVV, or Party for Freedom, talks to the media after a meeting with speaker of the House Vera Bergkamp, two days after Wilders won the most votes in a general election, in The Hague, Netherlands, on Nov. 24, 2023. Two days of behind-closed doors talks between four Dutch political leaders appear to have forced a breakthrough in negotiations to form a new ruling coalition nearly four months after a general election won by Wilders. While the exact contours of a new coalition Cabinet remain unclear, Kim Putters, who led the talks, believes that the parties are now ready to hammer out a deal. Putters was writing up a report Wednesday March 13, 2024 that he will present to lawmakers on Thursday. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

FILE – Geert Wilders, leader of the far-right party PVV, or Party for Freedom, talks to the media after a meeting with speaker of the House Vera Bergkamp, two days after Wilders won the most votes in a general election, in The Hague, Netherlands, on Nov. 24, 2023. Two days of behind-closed doors talks between four Dutch political leaders appear to have forced a breakthrough in negotiations to form a new ruling coalition nearly four months after a general election won by Wilders. While the exact contours of a new coalition Cabinet remain unclear, Kim Putters, who led the talks, believes that the parties are now ready to hammer out a deal. Putters was writing up a report Wednesday March 13, 2024 that he will present to lawmakers on Thursday. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch parliament named two new go-betweens Wednesday to lead negotiations to form the next ruling coalition, four months after the anti-immigration party led by Geert Wilders won a national election.

The appointment of economist and former lawmaker Elbert Dijkgraaf, and Richard van Zwol, a former senior civil servant who now sits on a key government advisory panel, sets the stage for a new phase in government talks.

Four parties — Wilders’ Party for Freedom, the center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, the reformist New Social Contract and pro-agriculture populist Farmer People Movement — are seeking to build what they are calling a “program Cabinet” made up of politicians and experts from outside politics.

Together the parties hold 88 of the 150 seats in the lower house of parliament.

Speaking in a parliamentary debate, Wilders told lawmakers that the talks would “finally start negotiating about policies to build a new Cabinet.” He said that the latest round of negotiations would take a maximum of eight weeks.

Wilders pledged that the new government would “tackle the big problems in this country.”

One of the other leaders who will be at the negotiating table, Pieter Omtzigt of the New Social Contract, sounded a note of caution even before the talks could begin.

“They won’t be easy negotiations,” he told lawmakers.

Although his party won the most seats in the election, Wilders conceded last week that he doesn’t have the support of his prospective coalition partners to become prime minister.

Even so, with its strong election showing and polls indicating that his support has grown since the Nov. 22 victory, Wilders’ party will remain the driving force behind the next administration.

He said that it wasn’t yet clear who could become the next premier.

The populist far right in a polarized political landscape has been on the rise for years in Europe, but Wilders’ election victory still came as a shock to the Netherlands and well beyond.

He has in the past called for a ban on mosques, Islamic schools and the Quran, but in a concession to his prospective coalition partners in January, he withdrew draft legislation to implement the bans.

International Headlines

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed AP

Trending on NewsNation