(Bloomberg) -- Far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders’ attempts to form a cabinet began anew with the appointment of a former Labor Party minister as coalition negotiator after an earlier failure to make headway in talks.
Wilders Tuesday picked Ronald Plasterk as a so-called scout tasked with exploring the various options available for the formation of a new cabinet. He was previously a minister of education and interior as part of the Dutch Labor Party and is nowadays a conservative columnist for local newspaper De Telegraaf.
Despite Plasterk’s current political views, the fact that he has served in government in another party suggests a wide network and understanding of the other parties. He has also worked with the outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte. Vera Bergkamp, the speaker of the Dutch parliament, said Plasterk can count on “broad support.”
His former Labor affiliation isn’t expected to play a role in Wilders’ talks with the Green Left and Labor alliance as Plasterk drifted away from his party over time.
The Labor Party is “alienated from the people”and presented a “disappointing” election program, Plasterk said in an opinion article. The Left alliance, which finished second, has ruled out cooperation with Wilders.
In his last opinion piece, he echoed Wilders’ election speech, arguing that a right-wing coalition should be formed by the far-right Freedom Party, liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, or VVD, center-right New Social Contract and the Farmer-Citizen Movement.
Plasterk is a biologist by profession and last year sold Frame Cancer Therapeutics, the startup he co-founded, to German biopharmaceutical company CureVac NV for €32 million ($35.1 million).
Plasterk’s appointment comes a day after Wilders’ first scout Gom van Strien, a Freedom Party senator, resigned from the position over media reports that his former employer had filed a complaint alleging fraud and bribery. Van Strien had denied the accusations.
Wilders is now courting parties to form a coalition after the VVD on Friday ruled out accepting any positions in his cabinet but said it is prepared to lend him its parliamentary support.
If the VVD supports Wilders as a “kind of a tolerating partner” as signaled by its leader, Dilan Yesilgoz-Zegerius, then his hopes of forming a working majority in parliament will hinge on the party that came fourth in Wednesday’s election: the newly launched New Social Contract group.
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