Dutch get a government after 100 days

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THE HAGUE (AP) - After more than 100 days of negotiation, coalition-builders clinched victory during the weekend for a new left-to-right Dutch government, ushering in an administration determined to trim public spending.

The coalition architect, Wim Kok, set to be prime minister, met leaders from the three coalition parties on Saturday to smooth over last-minute objections to the government policy plan.

Once the country's pre-eminent trade unionist, Mr Kok has taken on the unlikely task of skippering this welfare state toward conservative shores, and in the process throwing some sacrosanct programmes overboard and into the private sector. Despite some minor objections, MPs from the coalition parties gave their blessings.

That clears the way for Mr Kok, the finance minister in the current Christian Democrat-Labour government, to begin naming cabinet members in the next few days.

The tripartite alliance, called the Purple Coalition, brings together the Labour Party, champion of the Dutch welfare system, the right-wing Liberals, advocates of social security cuts, and the left- wing Democrats 66 (D66). Mr Kok's Labour party will get five ministerial posts, the Liberals five and D66 four.

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