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Last Updated: Monday, 14 April, 2003, 15:07 GMT 16:07 UK
Fortuyn party set for comeback
Jan Peter Balkenende
Balkenende: No "chemistry" with Labour Party
The caretaker prime minister of the Netherlands has confirmed that he may re-enter coalition government with the party of murdered anti-immigrant politician Pim Fortuyn.

It was infighting within the Pim Fortuyn List (LPF) party which brought down the last Dutch Government in October.

However, fresh elections and 11 weeks of talks have failed to seal a new coalition deal.

Caretaker PM Jan Peter Balkenende has now said he cannot rule out a fresh pact between his Christian Democrats and the LPF.

The Netherlands need to be ruled
Jan Peter Balkenende
He had previously insisted that LPF participation was not on the cards.

The liberal VVD party - which has more seats than the LPF and was also in the last coalition - would be needed as a third member to take the coalition to the majority it needs.

The Dutch Algemeen Dagblad newspaper quoted Mr Balkenende on Monday as saying it would not be good for his credibility to go back into coalition with the LPF.

"On the other hand the Netherlands needs to be ruled," he is quoted as saying.
A YEAR OF CRISIS
April 2002 Labour Prime Minister Wim Kok's cabinet resigns over Srebrenica massacre
May 2002 Pim Fortuyn murdered, nine days before his LPF party comes second in election
July 2002 LPF formally enters government with Christian Democrats
October 2002 Coalition collapses over LPF infighting
January 2003 Christian Democrats and Labour come first and second in fresh elections, start coalition talks
April 2003 Coalition talks collapse

Another daily, De Telegraaf, says Mr Balkenende wants more time to reach his decision, and will consult the liberals before trying to bring back the LPF.

A "prominent" liberal quoted in another newspaper, De Volkskrant, says the LPF could not afford to cause another government crisis.

"It would mean the end for the party," the unnamed spokesman says.

The paper also points out a worst-case scenario - a third election.

The most recent coalition talks, involving the Christian Democrats and Labour, collapsed last week.

Mr Balkenende blamed insufficient trust and chemistry between the two parties, although it is thought Labour would not agree to proposed cuts in the social security budget.

The two were also bitterly divided over the war in Iraq - with Labour opposed to Mr Balkenende's pro-US stance.

Queen Beatrix
Queen Beatrix is trying to urge parties towards a solution
Head of state Queen Beatrix held talks with her leading advisers and parliamentarians at the weekend, trying to find a way out of the crisis.

The breakdown of the previous coalition, after only 87 days in government, prompted Mr Balkenende to call new elections, which were held in January - only eight months after the previous poll in May.

But the fresh elections, far from ending the political paralysis, appear to have merely extended it.

While the Christian Democrats maintained their position as the biggest party , the Labour vote surged - making it appear the most likely fresh coalition ally for Mr Balkenende.

It is an enormous blow... I feel utterly betrayed
Labour leader Wouter Bos
Support for the LPF, meanwhile, collapsed. Voters were thought to be disillusioned by the bitter infighting. The party also lost the benefit of the wave of sympathy which followed Mr Fortuyn's murder only days before the May poll.

Labour leader Wouter Bos expressed anger at the collapse in talks.

"It is an enormous blow... I feel utterly betrayed," he said.

The LPF now has only eight of the 26 seats it won last May. Party leader Matt Herben has said he is ready to re-enter government.


SEE ALSO:
Dutch coalition talks stalled
09 Apr 03  |  Europe
Dutch Government collapses
16 Oct 02  |  Europe
Rise and fall of Fortuyn's party
16 Oct 02  |  Europe


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