Dutch Elections: Loss for Anti-Europe, Anti-Islam Wilders’ Freedom Party, Win for Pro-Europe Faction
Voters in the Netherlands have backed two pro-European centrist parties, while the anti-immigrant Geert Wilders’ Eurosceptic party took heavy losses.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte claimed victory for his liberal VVD party. Centre-left Labour came a close second.
Both parties performed better than predicted, seeking a pan-European solution to the eurozone crisis.
Wilder’s Freedom Party lost nine seats (down to 15) in the 150 seat chamber. The VVD gained 10 seats to take their totals to 41 and will be the party that has the first chance to form a government (i.e, the PM is likely to come from that VVD).
A snap look at these results indicates a pro-Europe sentiment in the electorate, which is interesting given the challenges facing the EU and the Eurozone in particular.
It is worth noting that the issue that caused early elections was the withdrawal of support for the minority government by the Freedom Party over an EU fiscal policy requirement. As such, the election was very much influenced by issues linked to Europe as a whole. The fact the VVD (which formed the aforementioned minority government) gained seats and the Freedom Party lost is significant in regards to the general sentiments over the EU in the Netherlands.
“I would have rather stood here with good news, but the voter has spoken: we have lost badly,” he told supporters after exit poll results were released.
He said he would continue to “fight,” to “to protect the Netherlands against Europe, against mass immigration, against the (European) super-state.”
“We will never give up,” he said.
For a pre-election rundown of the issues from a Dutch political observer, see JD Mussel’s guest-post over at Fruits and Votes.