July 20, 2017 / 3:35 PM / a month ago

Negotiators on holiday as effort to form Dutch government enters fifth month

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte attends the press conference after the meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany June 29, 2017.Hannibal Hanschke

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Efforts to form a new Dutch government, already the longest in 40 years, will not be completed for at least another month, because representatives of the four parties involved went on holiday for three weeks on Thursday.

Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte's liberal VVD party began a new round of talks last month, the third since March 15 elections.

The latest negotiations are aimed at forming a majority coalition between Rutte's VVD, the centrist Democrats 66, right-of-centre Christian Democratic CDA and the small Christian Union (CU).

Few details have leaked out of the discussions, led by former Finance Minister and ABN Amro chief executive Gerrit Zalm. Zalm compared the talks with the Tour de France: "We've had a couple of mountain stages and there are more to come. We certainly haven't reached Paris yet."

Rutte's previous government remains in power in a caretaker role and will now almost certainly draft the budget for the coming fiscal year, to be presented on Sept 19.

Reporting by Bart Meijer

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