Morning Chronicle - Dutch parties reach coalition deal: Wilders

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Dutch parties reach coalition deal: Wilders
Dutch parties reach coalition deal: Wilders / Photo: Sem van der Wal - ANP/AFP

Dutch parties reach coalition deal: Wilders

Six months after Geert Wilders won a stunning election victory, squabbling politicians finally clinched a deal Wednesday on a coalition government, said the Dutch far-right leader, who will not be prime minister.

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"We have a negotiators' agreement," said Wilders, who has reluctantly agreed to give up his dream of running Europe's fifth-largest economy amid widespread unease over his anti-Islam, anti-European views.

It was not immediately clear who would be prime minister to lead the right-wing coalition government and replace Mark Rutte, who is almost certain to be tapped as the new NATO secretary general.

"Discussions over the prime minister will be held at a later time," Wilders told reporters.

However, the main contender looks to be former education and interior minister Ronald Plasterk, who also played a key role in overseeing the initial talks.

The parties now have to take the agreement back to their MPs for further discussions. The details of the deal were not immediately available.

In March, the four parties agreed to aim for a partially technocratic government made up of 50 percent politicians and 50 percent from outside politics.

The last time the Netherlands had such an "expert" government was in 1918 and it is not clear how it will work more than 100 years later.

After marathon talks on Tuesday, Wilders said it would be a "historic day" if his far-right PVV Freedom Party took part in a Dutch government for the first time.

Wilders, sometimes nicknamed the "Dutch Trump", has softened some of his policy positions but his election manifesto still called for a ban on the Koran and mosques.

After romping to a shock election win, Wilders was primed to be the country's first far-right PM but at least one of his coalition partners threatened to torpedo a deal in that case.

"Do not forget: I will become prime minister of the Netherlands one day. With the support of even more Dutch," Wilders said after reluctantly stepping aside.

"If not tomorrow, then the day after tomorrow. Because the voices of millions of Dutch will be heard!"

The coalition talks -- between Wilders' PVV, farmers party BBB, the liberal VVD and new anti-corruption party NSC -- have been fractious, not helped by social media sniping from all sides.

In February, NSC head Pieter Omtzigt abruptly stormed out of the talks, ostensibly over disagreements over public finances but he was also known to have major concerns about Wilders' more extreme policies.