Informateur Zalm presides coalition talks between the negotiators of VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie

The informateur

As a rule, the leaders of the political groups will appoint a "scout", immediately after the elections, who holds a consultation with all the parties. No later than one week after the elections the House has a plenary debate on the election result and the Cabinet formation procedure. In this debate the House can designate one or more so-called informateurs, who examine which parties are ready to form a coalition and any obstacles which have to be overcome. The House of Representatives in its new composition decides on the exact assignment to be given to the informateur(s).

The Coalition Agreement

The Netherlands has a multitude of political parties. Never in Dutch parliamentary history has a single political party gained more than 50% of the votes. Consequently, several parties have to cooperate in order to form a Government. This cooperation is called the coalition. Parties that are not included in the Cabinet consitute the opposition.

Political parties wanting to make up a new Cabinet first have to reach an agreement on a draft Coalition Agreement, which lays down what the Government wants to do and to achieve in the next Cabinet term. The leaders of the political groups negotiate the draft Coalition Agreement under the leadership of the informateur(s). The new Cabinet has to carry out the Coalition Agreement and implement it in its policies.

The draft Coalition Agreement is presented for comment to the political groups representing the intended coalition parties in the House of Representatives. The more comments are received, the greater the chances that further negotiations will be necessary between the intended coalition partners. At this stage, the formation may still fail.

The formateur

Once the coalition parties have reached an agreement the formateur starts the formation of a Cabinet. The formateur, who is likely to be the Prime Minister, looks for people who are eligible to become ministers or state secretaries. Generally, the largest party provides the Prime Minister as well as most ministers.

When the team is complete, the new Cabinet holds a so-called constituent assembly, as is laid down in the Constitution, where the candidate ministers must state that they agree with the Coalition Agreement. They also lay down the final allocation of tasks. The King formally appoints and swears in the ministers and state secretaries. The formation is now complete and the new Cabinet can set to work.