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Wednesday, 16 October, 2002, 18:01 GMT 19:01 UK
Dutch Government collapses
CDA leader Jan Peter Balkenende and his wife
Balkenende formed his coalition only three months ago
The Dutch coalition government has collapsed after only three months in office, brought down by internal feuding in the party of murdered populist Pim Fortuyn.


I have done everything I could to find a solution to this crisis but I did not succeed

Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende
Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende told parliament he would present his government's resignation to Queen Beatrix later on Wednesday.

He described conflicts within his three-party coalition as unacceptable, and said the issue was distracting the government from attending to important business.

The government was the shortest-lived Dutch administration since World War II. New elections are expected in January.

Pim Fortuyn
The late Fortuyn continues to exert influence from beyond the grave
The collapse of the government sparked speculation that European Union enlargement might be jeopardised, but Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, does not see this as a threat.

"I'm sure Holland will not take upon its shoulders the responsibility of stopping the enlargement of the European Union and the healing of the wounds from the Second World War," he said.

The Dutch coalition had been divided over a range of issues, including EU expansion, but it was a power struggle between two ministers from Pim Fortuyn's LPF party which brought the government down.

Mr Balkenende formed a coalition involving his own Christian Democrats, the LPF and the Liberal VVF party, after elections in May.


The LPF is brilliant at carrying wood to its own funeral pyre and sometimes even provides the matches

Mat Herben
LPF leader
But the LPF, without its murdered charismatic leader, found itself beset by internal feuding on its future shape and direction.

Mr Fortuyn had been shot dead in May only nine days before the election, in which the LPF took second place to the Christian Democrats.

Personality clash

The LPF's Eduard Bomhoff and Herman Heinsbroek were granted senior cabinet seats, but became embroiled in a bitter personality battle.

Both finally resigned on Wednesday morning, but it was not enough to save the coalition.

"The LPF is brilliant at carrying wood to its own funeral pyre and sometimes even provides the matches," LPF leader Mat Herben told parliament.
Eduard Bomhoff
Bomhoff was locked in a power struggle with a fellow minister
The leader of the third coalition member, the conservative Liberal VVD party, called for the entire government to resign and new elections to be held.

"We need new elections as soon as possible," said VVD leader Gerrit Zalm. "The situation has become unmanageable. The LPF never puts its chaos aside."

The VVD, along with coalition partner the Christian Democrats, said that even without the two feuding ministers it did not want to continue governing with the LPF.

Mr Heinsbroek told reporters that he found it impossible to continue working in the coalition government as a minister in the LPF.

He said the party was unworkable, being so young and containing new members with very different visions.


The LPF was formed around Pim Fortuyn and for Pim Fortuyn

Political analyst
The LPF won 26 seats in the 150-seat parliament on an anti-immigration platform last May.

The latest polls give them three to four seats.

"They have no organisation, no by-laws and no leader," political analyst Andre Krouwel told the French news agency AFP this week. "The LPF was formed around Pim Fortuyn and for Pim Fortuyn."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Tim Franks
"This is the shortest government since the second world war"
Stef Bolk, MP, Liberal VVD
"The existing parties have themselves to blame"
See also:

16 Oct 02 | Europe
22 Jul 02 | Europe
04 Jul 02 | Europe
16 May 02 | Europe
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