Thursday, June 10, 2010 3:08 AM
From Spiegel Online:
The liberal VVD party has come first in Wednesday's Dutch parliamentary election, beating Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's Christian Democrats into fourth place. But the election's real winner is anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders, whose Freedom Party could be part of the next government.
Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and his Christian Democrats have suffered a crushing defeat in Wednesday's parliamentary elections in the Netherlands. The party only managed to finish fourth, behind even the Freedom Party of anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders.
Results were tight on election night, but by Thursday morning it appeared that the liberal-conservative VVD managed to come out ahead of the center-left Labor Party (PvdA). With 96.5 percent of the votes counted, Mark Rutte's VVD was ahead on Thursday morning with 31 of the 150 seats in the future parliament, while the PvdA had 30 seats.
Rutte called the VVD's result "a splendid victory." "It appears as if for the first time in our history the VVD has become the largest party in the Netherlands," he told supporters in the town of Scheveningen.
Weeks of Haggling
Rutte is now set to become the new prime minister. A 43-year-old former business manager, he would be the first liberal head of government in the Netherlands since World War I.
The result is likely to lead to weeks or even months of haggling as the parties try to form a stable coalition. Final results will not be declared until June 15, after votes from Dutch residents abroad have been tallied.
The real winner of the elections seems, however, to have been Geert Wilders, whose Freedom Party (PVV) won 24 seats, making it the third-strongest political force in the Netherlands. It managed to beat Balkenende's ruling Christian Democrats, which came in fourth place with 21 seats.
During his election campaign, Wilders called for a stop to immigration from Muslim countries and the reduction of social benefits for new immigrants. On election night, he reiterated his call for a role in the next government, saying it would be "not democratic" if the other parties, in their search for a coalition, were to ignore the fact that around 1.5 million people had voted for his PVV. "We want to govern," he said. Wilders has said he wants to form a coalition with the VVD and the Christian Democrats. The three right-wing parties could form a coalition with 76 seats, giving them a narrow majority in the 150-seat parliament.
PvdA leader Job Cohen and VVD head Mark Rutte both congratulated Wilders. "We must respect the growth of the PVV," Cohen said. In the run-up to the election, Rutte said that he would not rule out any party as a possible coalition partner....
And who said the news is always bad?