Seven months after the election, the Netherlands is finally on the brink of forming a government.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's Freedom and Democracy Party (VVD) has agreed a draft coalition pact with three other parties: the Christian Democrats (CDA), the Christian Union (CU) and progressive centrist Democrats 66 (D66).

Chief negotiator Gerrit Zalm announced the deal in The Hague on Monday (9 October). The parties will now discuss the coalition proposal with their own MPs and present their responses to Zalm on Tuesday morning (10 October).

On 15 March, Rutte secured a landslide victory in the high-stakes election, fighting off the challenge of his far-right, anti-EU rival Geert Wilders. Other European countries concerned about the "rising tide of populism" breathed a sigh of relief when the outcome was announced.

In his victory speech, Rutte said it was an "evening in which the Netherlands, after Brexit, after the American elections, said 'stop' to the wrong kind of populism".

The VVD won 33 out of 150 seats and therefore had to seek a coalition made up of at least four parties. The CDA and D66 each have 19 seats and the CU has five.

If formation goes ahead, the coalition will have a one-seat majority (76 out of 150) in parliament.

Rutte said that he was "very happy" a deal had been reached, 208 days after his party won the election. The average period of time taken to form a coalition in modern Dutch history is 72 days and the previous record of 207 days dates back to 1977.

"Precisely on the day that this government formation is overtaking the longest previous formation we have an agreement," he said.

Assuming the deal is accepted by all parties, Rutte will be tasked with selecting a team of ministers from the four parties.

The Dutch economy has not suffered as a result of the lengthy negotiations, with GDP having grown by 3.3% this year.

Dutch media reported that the new cabinet is likely to be sworn in the week of 23 October.