October 7, 2010 / 10:44 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-Dutch queen asks Liberal leader to form cabinet

* Rutte named PM after three months of talks

* Government depends on support of anti-Islam party

(Adds announcement by Rutte and details)

By Marcel Michelson

AMSTERDAM, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Dutch Liberal Party leader Mark Rutte said on Thursday he had been asked by Queen Beatrix to form a government, ending months of tough negotiations since an inconclusive election in June.

Rutte will head a centre-right coalition with the Christian Democrat party, supported in parliament by the anti-Islam Freedom Party led by Geert Wilders.

“I have been asked by the queen to form a government,” Rutte said before driving away from the royal palace in The Hague, where he met the queen for several hours.

His government will aim to cut the budget by 18 billion euros ($25 billion) and bring the state deficit to within European Union limits by 2013. It plans to ban face-covering veils such as the burqa and tighten immigration rules.

It will be the first post-war minority government and Rutte will be the first Liberal prime minister since 1918.

Political analysts see only a small chance the government will serve a full four-year term.

Rutte, 43, is a bachelor and former human resources manager at Anglo-Dutch consumer goods group Unilever.

Thursday’s announcement followed difficult negotiations between the main parties but the Dutch reached the finishing line before their Belgian neighbours, whose language divisions are still preventing the formation of a new government.

The centre-right hue of the administration, and the influence of the anti-immigrant party, reflected a change in Dutch voting habits against the background of the financial crisis in Greece and its effects on other countries, worries about pensions and concern about Islamic extremism.

The new government’s parliamentary majority is fragile, with 76 seats out of 150, since two Christian Democrat parliamentarians have expressed criticism of Wilders.

However, a small religious party, the SGP, has indicated it broadly agrees with the government plan.

Rutte, a former leader of the Liberal youth movement and the first single person to occupy the prime ministers’ residence in his hometown of The Hague.

He won the party leadership after a contest with Rita Verdonk, who campaigned for stricter immigration rules to try to prevent voters defecting to the Freedom Party.

In the June election, the Liberals had a one-seat advantage over the Social Democrats. The Freedom Party came third and the Christian Democrats of outgoing Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende were in fourth position.

Dutch voters next go to the polls in March, when they vote for provincial governments, which in turn elect the members of the Senate and the political landscape could change again. (Editing by Andrew Dobbie)

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