The Netherlands veers sharply to the right with a new government dominated by party of Geert Wilders

THE HAGUE (AP) — Anti-Islam firebrand Geert Wilders and three other party leaders agreed on a coalition deal early Thursday that veers the Netherlands toward the hard right, capping a half year of tumultuous negotiations that still left it unclear who would become prime minister.

The “Hope, courage and pride” agreement introduces strict measures on asylum seekers, scraps family reunification for refugees and seeks to reduce the number of international students studying in the country.

“Deport people without a valid residence permit as much as possible, even forcibly,” the 26-page document says.

“We are writing history today,” Wilders proclaimed, saying he had made sure the three other coalition parties, including the one of outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte, had accepted the core of his program.

“The sun will shine again in the Netherlands,” Wilders said. “It is the strongest asylum policy ever.”

With hard-right and populist parties now part of or leading a half dozen governments in the 27-nation European Union, they appear positioned to make gains in the bloc’s June 6-9 election. Wilders has been a political ally of radical right and populist leaders such as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni and French opposition leader Marine Le Pen.

“My party will be at the center of power. It makes us enormously proud,” Wilders said.

He had to make personal compromises, though. Wilders has already reluctantly acknowledged that he will not succeed Rutte at the country’s helm. The parties still have to agree on a prime minister, who is expected to be a technocrat from outside the party structures.

Speculation has centered on Ronald Plasterk from the Labor Party, who shot back to prominence this year when he became the first “scout” to hold talks with political leaders about possible coalitions.

The deal said the next government will continue with existing plans to combat climate change, including continuing to pay for a climate change fund established last year. But the Farmers Citizens Movement is part of the coalition, and the deal includes soothing language and concessions to farmers who have blocked cities with tractors during disruptive protests.

Other points in the agreement include increasing social housing, stricter sentences for serious crimes and capping property taxes.

The group intends to continue supporting Ukraine and wants to enshrine the NATO standard of spending 2% of gross domestic product on defense into law.

EU headquarters may not welcome a line in the coalition deal that says “the Netherlands is very critical against further enlargement of the European Union,” at a time when many other member nations want to add Ukraine and some other eastern nations. The EU needs unanimity among its current nations before it can add more.

The parties will explain the program to parliament on Thursday, though a debate will not be held on the agreement until next week.

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