September 29, 2010 / 5:17 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 2-Liberals, anti-Islam party approve Dutch coalition

* Liberals, anti-Islam Freedom Party MPs approve pact

* Christian Democrats (CDA) still face two votes on deal

* CDA unease about working with anti-Islam PVV remains

(Adds detail, quotes, context)

By Marcel Michelson

AMSTERDAM, Sept 29 (Reuters) - A right-leaning Dutch government moved closer to reality on Wednesday when members of parliament from the Dutch Liberals (VVD) and an anti-Islam party approved a coalition deal.

VVD leader Mark Rutte, expected to become the first Dutch liberal prime minister in almost a century, said on public television his parliamentary group unanimously approved the deal of VVD, Christian Democrats (CDA) and anti-Islam Freedom Party.

CDA members of parliament (MPs, two of whom have voiced concern over the cooperation with the Freedom Party, were to decide on the coalition agreement later on Wednesday. A meeting of all CDA party members set for Saturday must approve it too.

Freedom MPs approved the coalition deal earlier in the day.

The pact could still fall apart if it is rejected by CDA MPs or its party members, which would prolong a policy deadlock over how to cut a 5.8 percent GDP budget deficit and deal with social discontent over immigration. [ID:nRISKNL]

CDA members are concerned about Freedom Party (PVV) calls to ban Islam’s holy book Koran and halt Muslim immigration to the Netherlands, where about one million of the 16.5 million population are Muslims.


PVV leader Geert Wilders, who has compared the Koran to Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”, is on trial on charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims. The case will resume Monday.

There is little clarity on the concessions VVD and CDA had to make for PVV support but indications they could include drastic cuts on spending for integration of foreigners, reflecting a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe. [ID:nLDE6880FI]

“There will be an historic policy, which will be very different on various matters,” he said on Tuesday.

The Christian Democrats were formed out of three mainstream religious parties and ethical issues often pay a larger role than left-right divisions over economic or social policies.

Some of its members fear cooperation with the Freedom Party will further divide the multicultural Dutch society instead of bridging rifts.

Party leaders kept details of the tentative coalition pact under wraps pending discussions by the parliamentary factions later on Wednesday and an official presentation on Thursday.

Dutch newspapers reported some details including a 16 billion euro ($21.55 billion) figure for deficit cuts, compared to 18 billion previously, through a freeze on civil servant salaries, a reshuffling of ministries and the streamlining of local authorities and police constabularies. [ID:nLDE68S04E]

Development aid was set to be cut to 0.7 percent of GDP from 0.8 percent while some costs, like those of peace missions or the Dutch overseas broadcaster, could be included in this.

A revolt broke out within the CDA parliamentary faction earlier this month against cooperation with Wilders’ PVV but Christian Democrat party leader Maxime Verhagen prevailed in the debate and his co-negotiator left parliament.

Hans Wijers, chief executive of Dutch paints company AkzoNobel (AKZO.AS), the world’s largest, expressed concern about how Wilders’s involvement in the new government will affect the Netherlands and its businesses internationally.

“It is a concern what it will do. It is not helpful,” said Wijers, a former economy minister for the social liberal Democrat D66. “Let’s see how it works.” (Additional reporting by Aaron Gray-Block and Gilbert Kreijger; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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