Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's prospects of forming a new government waned on Saturday as a coalition partner seen as vital for securing a parliamentary majority ruled out joining a new administration led by him.
Rutte narrowly survived a no-confidence vote on Friday after parliament passed a motion disapproving of his behaviour during talks about forming a new government.
But ChristenUnie leader Gert Jan Segers, in an interview with newspaper Nederlands Dagblad, said: "We don't want to return to 'business as usual'. We cannot be part of a fourth Rutte government".
ChristenUnie has been one of four parties in the government led by Rutte's conservative VVD party since 2017.
Rutte, in office since 2010 and often an influential figure in the European Union, was the decisive winner of general elections two weeks ago.
But he only narrowly survived the no-confidence vote, which accused him of having not spoken the truth about suggestions he made over the possible future of a critical lawmaker from another party.
All the parties outside his coalition voted to have him removed immediately.
That seemed to have left the current coalition as the only viable option for Rutte to form his fourth consecutive government, until Segers' move on Saturday blocked that path.
Rutte, who has stayed on as caretaker prime minister, said on Friday he had not given up hope of forming a new government, as he expected formation talks to resume in the coming weeks.
Parliament will next week appoint an independent official tasked with mapping out ways to get the government formation process moving again.
An opinion poll published after the no-confidence vote debate showed Rutte's support among the general public had declined to 25%, from 54% a week earlier.