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Geert Wilders' Far-Right Freedom Party (PVV) Will Become the Largest Party in the Dutch Parliament, Exit Polls Show

23.11.2023
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https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2023/11/22/europe/netherlands-election-intl/index.html

Dutch far-right anti-EU populist Geert Wilders will begin looking for coalition partners on Thursday after a major election victory that will have wide implications in the Netherlands and Europe. An admirer of fellow Eurosceptic Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and a vocal opponent of the EU, Wilders has vowed to stop immigration, cut Dutch payments to the EU and block the admission of any new members, including Ukraine.

With 98% of the vote counted, his Freedom Party (PVV) won 37 seats out of 150, well ahead of the 25 seats of the joint Labor-Green list and 24 of outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte's conservative People's Party for Freedom and Democracy. “The Rutte era ends with a right-wing populist uprising that is shaking (The Hague) to its core. The PVV's historic election victory on Wednesday exceeded all expectations,” reports the Dutch center-right daily NRC.

A coalition of the Freedom Party, the PVV and the SNB party, led by centrist MP Peter Omtzigt, would win a combined 81 seats, making it the most obvious coalition, but it could still require months of difficult negotiations. None of the parties with which Wilders could form a government shares his anti-European ideas.

“I am confident that we can reach an agreement,” Wilders said in his victory speech late Wednesday. “We want to manage and... we will manage.” Wilders' victory came two months after the return to power of similarly anti-European populist Robert Fico in Slovakia, who promised to end military aid to Ukraine and cut immigration. Last year, Italy formed its most right-wing government since World War II following Georgia Meloni's election victory.

“The wind of change is here! Congratulations to Geert Wilders on his victory in the Dutch elections,” Orban said late on Wednesday. In France, the far right also rejoiced. “It is because there are people who do not want the national torch to be blown off that hope for change remains alive in Europe,” Marine Le Pen said.

Wilders has repeatedly said that the Netherlands should stop supplying weapons to Ukraine because, according to him, the country needs weapons to be able to defend itself. “We will have to find ways to meet the expectations of our voters and return the No. 1 position to the Dutch,” Wilders said. After his victory, he declared that "The Netherlands will be returned to the Dutch, tsunami refuges and migration will be limited."

Wilders and his party have never been in government, although they supported Rutte's first coalition government about a decade ago. Islamic and Moroccan organizations expressed concern about Wilders' victory. Muslims make up about 5% of the population. “The grief and fear are enormous,” Habib el-Kaddouri, who heads an organization representing Dutch Moroccans, told Dutch news agency ANP. “We are afraid that he will portray us as second-class citizens.”

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said the Dutch election was "a reminder to progressives everywhere: the ongoing threat from the far right is real and on our doorstep."

 

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