Covid-19 stops Dutch coalition talks

Photo: EPA Mark Rutte

Talks on forming a new Dutch government after last week elections were put on hold on Thursday after one of the chief negotiators was found to have been infected with COVID-19, news wires reported. Interior Minister Kajsa Ollongren, tasked with mapping out possibilities to form a coalition government, tested positive for COVID-19, her office said.

Ollongren, a representative of the pro-European Union D66 party, had held talks with the leaders of all parties in the Dutch parliament in the days before her test, including PM Mark Rutte and the leader of her own party, Sigrid Kaag.

According to Dutch health regulations, Rutte and the other party leaders will have to take a Covid-19 test five days after their meeting with Ollongren to see whether they were infected. Rutte tested negative for the coronavirus on Wednesday, his office said on Thursday, following an infection of one of his cabinet members late last week.

Rutte’s conservative VVD party remains the largest in the Dutch parliament following the March 15-17 election, while D66 placed second. Both parties are widely expected to form a new government together with up to three junior partners, in a process that could take months.

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