Dutch coalition scouts quit after prep notes slip

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THE HAGUE, March 25 (Xinhua) — The so-called “scouts” tasked with investigating possible coalitions following last week’s parliamentary election in the Netherlands resigned with immediate effect on Thursday after confidential preparatory notes were accidentally leaked to the press.

Scouts Annemarie Jorritsma and Kajsa Ollongren started talks on the formation of a new coalition government last Thursday, one day after Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) became the biggest winner of the elections.

On Thursday morning, a photo of Ollongren was published by the Dutch press agency ANP, which showed legible conversation notes that she carried under her arm as she walked to her car. Ollongren was just leaving the Parliament building in The Hague, because she had just learned that she tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Among other things, the notes contained comments about the position of Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) Member of Parliament Pieter Omtzigt. When the photo was magnified, the words “Omtzigt… job elsewhere” could be read. Other notes were “left-wing parties are not completely stuck together” and “little real enthusiasm/little support for a minority cabinet.”

Jorritsma and Ollongren have now informed House of Representatives Speaker Khadija Arib that they can no longer do their work without prejudice. According to their joint statement, the notes were “inventory preparation notes that were to be discussed this morning and were intended as provisional input for the next round in the exploration phase.”

Ollongren, who is also caretaker minister of the interior, is the second member of the outgoing cabinet to have tested positive for coronavirus in a week after State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate Mona Keijzer. Enditem

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