New Dutch Cabinet Forms With Populist Wilders as Kingmaker

(Bloomberg) -- The Netherlands’ new cabinet was sworn in Tuesday, making it the first time that Geert Wilders’ far-right party became a part of the Dutch government.

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The new government led by Wilders’s Freedom Party wants to significantly reduce migration, marking the most hard-right shift for the country in decades. The cabinet aims to invoke emergency legislation to limit the inflow of migrants and seek an opt-out from the European Union’s migration policy.

The Netherlands’ new cabinet takes office as migration tops voters’ concerns in Europe. Nationalist and far-right parties have moved into positions of power throughout the EU. Marine Le Pen’s National Rally and its allies dominated the first round of voting in France on Sunday.

After delivering a shock win in November’s elections, Wilders’ ambition of forming a right-wing cabinet had been an uphill task. The far-right politician was forced to abandon his bid to become prime minister in order to move talks forward. The four coalition parties instead picked former spy chief Dick Schoof, who doesn’t hold a party affiliation, as prime minister of the EU’s fifth largest economy.

Schoof, who has experience in migration and security as a seasoned government official, replaced Mark Rutte, the country’s longest-serving premier. Rutte will succeed Jens Stoltenberg as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s secretary general later this year.

The leaders of the four parties in the coalition have decided to stay out of the cabinet. They have divided the 15 cabinet positions among themselves with Wilders’s Freedom Party snapping up five ministries, followed by the center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, or VVD, which has four under its charge.

Eelco Heinen of the VVD became the country’s finance minister. He will oversee the future of the German unit of Tennet Holding BV’s power grid and plans to cut the state’s stake in lender ABN Amro Bank NV.

Reinette Klever of Wilders’s Freedom Party is now the minister for foreign trade and development aid, a role that typically oversees the country’s export control policies. The Netherlands has been a key ally in the US’s efforts to curb China’s semiconductor ambitions by restricting Dutch chip equipment maker ASML Holding NV’s exports to Beijing.

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