Ruud Lubbers opposes coalition deal with Wilders

Three-time Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers, who brokered talks on forming a government between his Christian Democrats, the Liberal Party, and the anti-Islam Freedom Party, said he now opposed the plan, citing concerns about freedom of religion.

“My stance has developed from a ‘yes, but’ to a ‘no, unless’,” Lubbers wrote in an Aug. 20 letter to the Christian Democrat leader in parliament, Maxime Verhagen, and party chairman Henk Bleker published by Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant today.

Lubbers’s change of view may jeopardize the formal negotiations that started last month on establishing a Liberal-Christian Democrat government that would rely on the support of the Freedom Party, led by Geert Wilders, to get legislation through parliament. It would be the Netherlands’ first minority administration since World War II.

Other senior Christian Democrats have also expressed opposition against the talks with Wilders. His party seeks to ban new mosques, curb immigration, cut development aid and reduce European Union influence in the Netherlands.

“Freedom of religion – also of Islam – and no discrimination based on religion or world view have to remain essential features of our constitutional state,” Lubbers wrote. “On that, there can’t be a shadow of a doubt.”

Bloomberg, 16 August 2010