Former intelligence chief to become Dutch PM as part of ‘business cabinet’ – The Guardian

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A top justice ministry official and former intelligence chief is to be the new Dutch prime minister, the public broadcaster NOS has reported, five months after Geert Wilders’ far-right Freedom party (PVV) finished first in parliamentary elections.

Dick Schoof, the highest official at the justice and security ministry, will be formally nominated as the preferred candidate by the four parties making up the Netherlands’ right-wing coalition government on Tuesday, NOS said.

Schoof, 67, formerly a national counterterrorism coordinator and director of the AIVD intelligence and IND immigration services, will head a “business” or “extra-parliamentary” cabinet of equal numbers of political appointees and experts.

PVV, whose manifesto included calls for bans on mosques, the Qur’an and Islamic headscarves in government buildings as well as a “Nexit” referendum on leaving the EU, won a shock 26% of the vote in elections last November.

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But its 37 seats left it far short of a majority in the 150-seat assembly and needing to negotiate an alliance with the liberal-conservative VVD, the BBB agrarian protest party, and New Social Contract (NSC), a centre-right political startup.

Wilders abandoned hope of becoming prime minister in March in the face of his coalition partners’ reluctance to nominate him for the job, while another hopeful, former Labour party minister Ronald Plasterk, dropped out last week.

Wilders and the other party leaders, including Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius, who succeeded outgoing prime minister Mark Rutte as VVD leader, Caroline van der Plas of the BBB and NSC’s Pieter Omtzigt, will sit in the Dutch parliament.

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The four parties this month reached a coalition agreement including plans for a radical tightening of policy on asylum seekers and immigration, an increase in natural gas production and the relaxation of multiple green regulations.

Border controls will be intensified, admittance procedures shortened, and people denied asylum in another EU country will be sent away immediately, with labour migration and the flow of foreign students to Dutch universities also curbed.

On the environment, daytime motorway speeds – reduced to 62mph in an effort to cut nitrogen pollution – are due to be returned to 80mph “where possible”, and subsidised “red diesel” will be reintroduced for farmers from 2027.

If the appointment is confirmed, Schoof is expected to lead the continuing search for new ministers and state secretaries with the objective of being able to announce a full cabinet before the summer recess at the beginning of July.

The Telegraaf newspaper reported that Schoof was a once a member of the PvdA Labour party, but had left it an indeterminate time ago.

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