Geert Wilders could be kingmaker in Dutch parliament after coming third
Good news just in. Geert Wilders came in a credible third and captured 23 seats, up from his previous 9. It will be interesting to see how the new government will be formed seeing as no one has an outright majority.
Results from Dutch exit polls show that Mr Wilders and his hard-right Freedom Party, PVV, could become the kingmakers in a new coalition, which is likely to take months to emerge.
Mr Wilders campaigned to halt immigration from Muslim countries, to ban new mosques and the Koran in a bid to “stop the Islamisation of the Netherlands”. He increased his share of seats from nine to a “magnificent” 23.
Mark Rutte, the leader of the centre-right Liberal VVD, had been expected to be the clear winner but drew with Job Cohen, Labour’s leader, with 31 seats apiece.
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, the former Christian Democrat, CDA, resigned his party leadership and parliamentary seat after his party came in fourth place with 21 seats.
The figures show that a right-wing coalition between the VVD, Mr Wilders’ PVV and CDA, with 74 seats out of 150, is only possible if the usual margin of error between exit polls and the final result benefits any of three parties.
Otherwise, Mr Rutte and Mr Cohen would be forced to seek a “Purple plus” coalition of the VVD and Labour in coalition with small parties, the left leaning GroenLinks, 11 seats and the radical liberal D66, with 10 MPs.
The draw between the Liberals and Labour, both on the opposite ends of the political spectrum when it comes to public spending, will make agreement on a Dutch austerity package more protracted.
Fiscal austerity overtook immigration as the central campaign theme after the Greek debt crisis threatened the stability of the euro zone, of which the Netherlands is a member.