Netherlands election: Wilders party is ahead according to forecast

As of: November 22nd, 2023 10:05 p.m

It is probably a political earthquake for the Netherlands – an initial forecast sees Islam critic Wilders ahead in the parliamentary elections. “We want to govern,” he said after the first numbers.

According to one forecast, the party of right-wing populist Geert Wilders emerged as the strongest force in the parliamentary elections in the Netherlands. This was reported by Dutch television after the polls closed. Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV) can therefore hope for 35 of the 150 seats in parliament and would therefore be the strongest force. If the forecast is confirmed, it would be the first time that a right-wing populist party wins a Dutch parliamentary election.

The previous right-wing liberal ruling party VVD of outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte is losing significantly and only has 23 seats, while the list of Social Democrats and Greens led by former EU Commissioner Frans Timmermans is forecast to reach 26 seats in parliament. The party of the former Christian Democrat Pieter Omtzigt, the New Social Contract (NSC), which was founded just a few weeks ago, can therefore count on 20 seats.

Dutch again in first place

The PVV wanted to work with other parties, said Wilders shortly after the forecast became known in The Hague. That means that all parties – including the PVV – have to jump over their shadow. “We want to govern. And with 35 seats we will govern.”

For Wilders it would be his best result ever: his best election result to date came in 2010. Even if the PVV actually becomes the largest party, it is not certain that Wilders will become prime minister.

To take over government, however, he would have to rely on several coalition partners. Wilders promised: “We will ensure that the Dutchman comes first again.” The “asylum tsunami” must be limited.

PVV could coalition partner miss

Former EU Commissioner Timmermans definitely doesn’t want to work with him. “I don’t want to wake up in a country where Geert Wilders became the strongest political force,” the Social Democrat wrote in a blog before the election. NSC candidate Omtzigt also ruled out working with Wilders because he represented unconstitutional positions.

However, the top candidate of the previous ruling party VVD, Dilan Yesilgöz, had not ruled out working with Wilders before the election: However, she would not join Wilders’ cabinet if he was ahead.

During the election campaign, Wilders presented himself as “Geert Milders” – as it was called in the press – in an accommodating manner towards the VVD. Although he called for a rigid anti-migration policy, he refrained from using shrill tones. The fight against Islam is not a priority at the moment, he said. Instead, he wants to close the borders to asylum seekers.

In its election manifesto, however, his party called for, among other things, a referendum on the Netherlands’ withdrawal from the European Union, a complete stop in accepting asylum seekers and the “de-Islamization” of the Netherlands.

Coalition falls out over the issue of migration

The early parliamentary election became necessary after Rutte’s center-right coalition collapsed in the summer after just 18 months in office. The reason for this was a dispute over migration policy.

Rutte, the longest-serving prime minister in Dutch history, then announced his departure from national politics and now wants to become NATO Secretary General. However, he will remain in office until a new government takes office.

With information from Andreas Meyer-Feist, ARD Studio Brussels

Andreas Meyer-Feist, ARD Brussels currently. The Hague, tagesschau, November 22nd, 2023 9:34 p.m

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