NETHERLANDS - It was unclear if Dutch pensions minister Aart Jan de Geus would retain his post in the new government, after elections yesterday.

After the vote, which saw huge gains for the Socialist Party (SP) and the far-right, the Netherlands faces difficult coalition talks.

The outcome brings uncertainty for the Dutch pensions sector, as it will probably be several months before a coalition can be formed and a new minister for social affairs, responsible for pensions, can be appointed.

Though prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende of the leading Christian Democrats scored a victory over Labour last night, it is still unclear if the ministry for social affairs will go to the CDA again, as spokesman for the party told IPE.

The CDA would like to form a coalition with the Labour Party (PvdA) and small Christian party ChristeUnie the spokesman said, though the party also said that it would include SP, now the third largest party, in coalition talks.