Netherlands politician Wilders says minority cabinet an option

By Toby Sterling

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) -Dutch politician Geert Wilders on Wednesday said that forming a minority government with himself as prime minister is a possibility, following last week’s election in which his Freedom Party (PVV) won the most seats.

Speaking to reporters after his first meeting with the “scout” appointed to handle the initial phase of what are expected to be lengthy coalition talks, Wilders said he would be “strong but reasonable” in discussions with potential partners.

The possibility of a minority cabinet arose shortly after the election when the conservative VVD Party of outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte — which shares many of Wilders’ anti-immigration positions — said it would not join a Wilders-led Cabinet but did not exclude offering him outside support.

Wilders, whose party took around 24% of the vote, will need to work with at least two more moderate parties to form a coalition.

He said he told the scout his preference is to work with the VVD, the centre-right “New Social Contract” Party (NSC) and the conservative Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB), which together would command a solid majority in both houses of Dutch parliament.

That is the “logical, right combination,” Wilders said, adding that the most important thing was that the parties agreed to talks on how they might cooperate.

NSC leader Pieter Omtzigt has signalled working with Wilders would be difficult, given that elements of the PVV’s platform violate Dutch constitutional guarantees on freedom of religion.

The VVD’s new leader Dilan Yesilgoz on Wednesday said her party’s faction in parliament was willing to cooperate with a minority PVV-NSC-BBB cabinet on matters including “migration, building more houses and lowering the cost of living.”

“We can work out the precise form of the cooperation together,” she said in a post on the X social media platform.

The scout will meet with NSC leader Omtzigt later on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Toby SterlingEditing by Bernadette Baum)