At least six parties will be needed for new coalition in The Hague, advisor says

The municipality of The Hague needs at least six parties to form a new coalition to govern the city. Arie Slob issued his advice calling for Hart voor Den Haag, the VVD, animal rights party PvdD, DENK, SP and ChristenUnie/SGP to form a coalition. If that fails, there may be a nine-party alternative with D66, GroenLinks, PvdA, CDA, PvdD, DENK, SP, ChristenUnie/SGP and the Haagse Stadspartij.

Slob said on Monday that it is not feasible for the city’s aldermen to come from both of the two largest parties in the city in a single coalition. Those are Hart voor Den Haag and D66.

Slob is the former Minister for Primary and Secondary Education who served on the third Cabinet of Prime Minister Mark Rutte. Prior to that, the 61-year-old served in the Tweede Kamer and was the leader of ChristenUnie. In recent weeks, he was selected to examine the possibilities for political cooperation in The Hague. He said that an “extended” period will be needed to explore the two remaining possible coalition variants. He also said he was willing to lead those talks. The chairs of the political parties in The Hague were expected to discuss next steps on Monday evening.

Slob admitted that it may not be obvious to create the six-party coalition, with parties representing a wide range on the political spectrum. However, the group of six parties does represent a majority on the full city council, and also was voted in by a large portion of The Hague’s electorate.

Together, they could create a more simplified agreement “with room in the council for debate and for contributions from groups that are not in the coalition,” he said. The other option, with nine parties, consists of the remaining current coalition parties plus five opposition parties.

The most recent coalition of The Hague fell at the end of June after the VVD ended its cooperation with D66, CDA, PvdA and GroenLinks. This happened after a troubled, additional meeting of the city council about how the coalition should deal with Hart voor Den Haag, the party of former aldermen Richard de Mos and Rachid Guernaoui.

They were acquitted of corruption in April and their party now wants to return to the coalition, though the Public Prosecution Service said it will appeal with regards to charges of bribery and breach of confidentiality. VVD, CDA and D66 were willing to discuss a return to the coalition with De Mos, but PvdA and GroenLinks were strongly against it. Because of the unrest, Slob was appointed to find potential points of compromise.

During his exploration, Slob looked at a coalition with only the three largest parties, Hart voor Den Haag, D66 and VVD. D66 was afraid that the faction would have to give up too much in such a coalition. Moreover, D66’s confidence in the VVD was damaged by the way in which the coalition collapsed. The debate “deepened the contradictions,” said Slob.

Hart voor Den Haag offered to include GroenLinks in that coalition, but that party does not want to participate without the PvdA. The parties already work very closely together at the national level, and they have a joint list of candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections. “That is a choice to be respected and understandable given national developments, but it does have consequences for the coalition,” said Slob. Moreover, De Mos does not want to cooperate with the PvdA.

If The Hague gets a new coalition, it will be the city’s fourth in five years.

Reporting by ANP and NL Times

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