Netherlands: coalition deal with Wilders hinges on CDA conference vote

The formation of a Dutch coalition government hinges on a Christian Democrat congress on Saturday after party legislators failed to resolve divisions over relying on support from the anti-Islam Freedom Party.

The legislators said on Thursday they were unable at a 15-hour meeting overnight to endorse a deal under which the Christian Democrats and Liberal Party would form a minority government with backing in parliament from the Freedom Party.

They said they had agreed to leave the issue to Saturday’s conference of all party members before making a final decision on forming the proposed coalition, whose main task will be to implement austerity measures.

Prominent members of both the Christian Democrats and Liberal Party have spoken out against working with Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders, who is on trial for inciting hatred against Muslims. Wilders, whose party was the biggest gainer in a June election, has compared the Koran to Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”.

“I have all confidence that an overwhelming majority of the conference (on Saturday) will give its approval,” Christian Democrat leader Maxime Verhagen told reporters in a statement aired live on national television.

Reuters, 30 September 2010