Wilders' party suffers blow, according to exit poll
By Peter Teffer
The pro-European D66 and the Christian-Democrat CDA parties appear to be the winners of the elections in the Netherlands for the European Parliament. Meanwhile, Geert Wilders' far-right Freedom party (PVV) lost almost 5 percent of its votes compared to 2009, according to an exit poll by Ipsos, published on Thursday evening (May 22).
The poll has the D66 and CDA taking 15.6 percent and 15.2 percent respectively, with the Liberal VVD party of prime minister of Mark Rutte set to claim 12.3 percent, fractionally ahead of the PVV on 12.2 percent of the vote.
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The official result will be announced on Sunday evening (May 25). The exit poll predicts that ten parties have gained enough votes to win one seat or more. With only 26 Dutch seats to be divided, the shift of a percentage point from one party to another between the exit poll and the actual result could mean the difference between a winner and a loser.
Voter turnout was 35 percent according to Ipsos, which is slightly under 2009's turnout of 36.8 percent.
If the exit polls are correct, CDA and D66 will each win 4 seats. Labour and Liberal, the two parties supporting the current coalition government, will take 3 seats each, as will the Socialist Party and PVV.
The combined Christian party ChristianUnion-SGP have won 2 seats, as well as GreenLeft. Two parties are set to enter the European Parliament for the first time: the party for the elderly 50PLUS and the animal rights party Party for the Animals.
Pollster Maurice de Hond, who had asked volunteers to report the results from their local polling station, predicts the same distribution of seats.
On Thursday evening, D66 and CDA politicians were happy to celebrate their success.
The leader of D66 in the national parliament, Alexander Pechtold, said in a speech that “the Netherlands has convincingly chosen for Europe”.
Although CDA might lose a seat in the European Parliament compared to the 2009 result, the party is satisfied with the initial indications, after national elections 2010 and 2012 when it did poorly.
“It will be very tense until Sunday, but this already is a great result, to be in the running to be the biggest party in the Netherlands”, said Sybrand van Haersma Buma.
“The exit polls are disappointing”, said PVV leader Geert Wilders in a speech. But exit polls are only based on how voters say they voted, not on what their actual votes were.
Wilders blamed the low voter turnout for the apparent poor showing of his party – even though turnout appears to be only a percentage point or so lower than last time. “The Netherlands has not become more europhile because two out of three Dutch have stayed at home.”