No decision on many Cabinet posts after two weeks of new coalition talks

THE HAGUE - Almost two weeks after Dick Schoof was presented as the new coalition's nominee for prime minister, the parties forming a coalition have not yet reached an agreement on the distribution of the remaining Cabinet posts. Several sources close to the talks in The Hague said that the ministerial posts have already been divided between the parties, and that the discussions are now about the state secretaries that serve below the ministers. 

It is unusual for the distribution of Cabinet posts to be debated for weeks. On Monday, after the coalition parties discussed the issue, neither the party leaders nor the incoming prime minister were willing to comment on the matter. 

Sources close to the talks claimed that the talks are dragging on slowly. That said, they do not believe the formation will collapse as a result. 

Once the coalition parties have determined which party may put forward a candidate to specific vacancies, they can nominate the potential ministers and state secretaries. These will then be screened by civilian intelligence agency AIVD. Parties have already made contact in advance with candidates they have in mind. 

The coalition sources still hope that the Cabinet will take office by June 27, the first date of a two-day European Summit in Brussels. The thinking is that this will be a prime opportunity for a potential Prime Minister Dick Schoof to introduce himself to the leaders of the European Union Member States at the European Council meeting. 

In order for that to happen, hearings will have to be held on new Cabinet members. All ministers and state secretaries, except the prime minister, are required to make themselves available for questioning in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Parliament. Each of these hearings can last up to three hours.