Mark Rutte appears set to begin a third term as Dutch prime minister
Edith Schippers, a centre-right politician tasked with exploring possible governing alliances will continue to hold exploratory talks with the leaders of four parties, including Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
Ms Schippers first spoke to the leaders of all 13 parties that won seats in parliament but has now narrowed it down to Mr Rutte’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), the Christian Democrats (CDA), liberal D66 and the centre-left GreenLeft.
If the four parties were to join forces in a coalition they would enjoy an 85-seat majority in parliament.
Mark Rutte with Edith Schippers ahead of talks to form the next Dutch government
Mr Rutte, whose party won 33 seats, has said he would prefer a deal between the VVD, D66, CDA and an unnamed fourth party.
The election was widely seen as a test of populist right-wing sentiment in Europe ahead of the French presidential vote in April and the German national election in September.
A total of 28 parties took part in the election – with 13 winning at least one seat.
Mark Rutte pictured with populist Geert Wilders who had hoped to cause an election upset
Support for the PVDA party – Holland’s equivalent to Labour in the UK – which had previously been in government with Mr Rutte's VVD, plunged from 38 seats to nine.
Jesse Klaver, the leader of the GreenLeft, which gained an additional 10 seats in the election, said he wanted a “Christian progressive cabinet” without the VVD.
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Ms Schippers will report back on the coalition talks and the new parliament will discuss the progress made.
Mark Rutte poses for a selfie with a young supporter The top moments from the Dutch Elections Thu, March 16, 2017
Geert Wilders is battling the current Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the Dutch Elections 2017
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After that, a so-called formateur will be appointed and asked to form a government, with Mr Rutte in pole position to take that post and serve a third term as prime minister.
Ms Schippers, health minister in the outgoing government and once named as a possible successor to Mr Rutte, said she would not take a ministerial post and will leave politics after 23 years.