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King Willem-Alexander on Thursday swore in a new Dutch government under conservative Prime Minister Mark Rutte, ending the longest coalition talks in Dutch history. Divisive elections on March 15 eroded the base of traditional parties, forcing the need to work out a deal between four parties.
Rutte’s third cabinet since coming to power in 2010 will find support from the strongest Dutch economic growth in a decade, at over 3 percent, but only has a one-seat majority in both houses of parliament. Dissent by any parliament member could therefore endanger the coalition’s plans. Negotiations lasted 225 days as parties dug in over sensitive issues ranging from immigration and euthanasia to corporate tax rates.
Under a detailed government accord reached earlier this month, broad tax cuts will benefit both companies and workers. This should boost the spending power of consumers, while making the euro zone’s fifth largest economy more attractive for foreign investors. The coalition comprises Rutte’s liberal VVD, the centrist D66 and conservative Christian parties CDA and Christian Union, marking a steer to the right compared to the outgoing government of VVD and the centre-left Labour party.
The installation of the new government marks the departure of Eurogroup president and finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who has said he will leave Dutch politics. Dijsselbloem will be succeeded by 42-year-old Christian Democrat Wopke Hoekstra, while the former parliamentary leader of the VVD, Halbe Zijlstra, will head the department of foreign affairs.
Another notable newcomer is Sigrid Kaag, a well-known diplomat who since 2015 served as the Special Coordinator for Lebanon of the United Nations.