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Dutch candidate Cabinet ministers are questioned by official working to build coalition government

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Candidate Cabinet ministers in the Netherlands’ incoming far-right-led government underwent questioning Monday to establish their suitability for office, as the monthslong process of forming a new administration neared its end.

Anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom won elections in November and has been working since then to cobble together a four-party coalition to govern for the next four-year parliamentary term.

The negotiations have been tough. Last week, Wilders had to withdraw his candidate for minister for asylum and migration after a national security screening. The replacement candidate, Marjolein Faber, prompted urgent discussions between the leaders of the coalition parties because of her past hard-right comments.

The rocky road toward a new government highlights tensions within a coalition that includes Wilders’ far-right ideology, a populist pro-farming party and a new centrist party — New Social Contract — that is committed to reforming politics and protecting the constitutional rule of law.

The only party with experience in a national government is the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, or VVD, formerly led by outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

The VVD’s candidate for minister for climate and green growth, Sophie Hermans, was first to meet Monday with the candidate prime minister, Dick Schoof, who is the official leading the formation process.

“I want to take my responsibility to work on the problems we have in the Netherlands, the challenges we face,” Hermans told reporters in The Hague.

Rutte will remain caretaker prime minister until the new administration is sworn in. He is widely expected to become the next NATO chief after he leaves Dutch politics.

After the behind-closed-doors talks that started Monday, the candidate ministers will be questioned in parliament by lawmakers in hearings later this week before they are officially sworn in by King Willem-Alexander early next month.

Brought to you by www.srnnews.com

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