Dutch Christian Democrats back pact with Wilders
By Aaron Gray-Block
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch Christian Democrats (CDA) endorsed a government coalition with liberals relying on the support of an outspokenly anti-Islamic party on Tuesday, but analysts said the pact could prove frail.
The coalition born of three months of wrangling will rely on backing from the Freedom Party (PVV) of Geert Wilders, currently on trial for public criticisms of Islam including a comparison with Nazism. Concessions to the PVV include a pledge to ban the Islamic burqa face covering and tighter immigration rules.
The deal was sealed when all 21 CDA MPs voted to back a pact with the Liberal VVD. Two MPs had echoed reservations expressed on Saturday by a CDA congress about the recourse to PVV support.
CDA leader Maxime Verhagen, announcing the agreement, acknowledged potential strains.
"The government will be judged on its acts," he told reporters. "You cannot guarantee that on any (one) proposal everyone will vote in favour."
Markets reacted little to the expected deal. Dutch bond spreads over benchmark German Bunds, already some of the tightest in Europe, were largely unchanged.
The Queen will now likely ask Liberal leader Mark Rutte to form a government, with him as Prime Minister and the government could be presented as early as this week.
"The fact that 21 MPs will critically look at cabinet decisions does not give me the impression of a sound and solid basis for the government," Christian Union party leader Andre Rouvoet said. Continued...