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In most cases the formateur will be the intended Prime Minister. As a rule, the largest party provides the Prime Minister. He concludes the formation talks and divides the ministerial posts or “portfolios” The formateur will then look for people who are eligible to become ministers or state secretaries on behalf of the coalition parties.

When the team is complete, the new Cabinet holds a so-called constituent assembly, where the ministers must state that they agree with the Coalition Agreement, setting out the common goals and the key policy themes of the future Cabinet. Subsequently, the Head of State swears in the ministers and state secretaries. Shortly afterwards, the Cabinet delivers the Government's policy statement in the House of Representatives.

The duration of the Cabinet formation

In the Netherlands, the formation a Cabinet can be a very prolonged process. This may be problematic, because in principle the outgoing Cabinet only deals with current, non-controversial affairs. A Cabinet becomes "outgoing" once the Prime Minister has tendered its resignation to the Head of State. Since 1946 the average duration of a Cabinet formation has been 89.5 days. The shortest formation, that of the Drees I Cabinet in 1948, took ten days. The longest formation took 208 days and resulted in the Van Agt I Cabinet in 1977. The formation of the current Rutte II Cabinet was completed in 52 days.

Formation process changed

On 27 March 2012 the House adopted a change of the rules governing the formation process, laid down in its Rules of Procedure. The aim of the amendment was to enable the House of Representatives to take the initiative in the formation of a new Cabinet. Before the House decided to amend its Rules of Procedure, the Head of State played a key role in the formation process, which followed an established pattern. After consulting her advisers the Head of State appointed an informateur, who's task was to explore the possibilities to form a Cabinet that would gain sufficient support from the House of Representatives. Once the information process had yielded a clear result the Head of State appointed a formateur.