20th Oct 2016

Gains for Wilders' anti-immigration party in Dutch elections

Early results suggest the hard-right anti-immigration party of Geert Wilders looks set to emerge as the main winner in local elections held in the Netherlands on Wednesday (3 March), setting the stage for a national showdown in June.

"We are going to conquer the entire country ... We are going to be the biggest party in the country," said the blond-haired Mr Wilders as the results came through.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Although the Party for Freedom (PVV) only fielded candidates in two local constituencies, a new opinion poll that coincided with the vote suggested the party was set to make significant gains in the summer general elections.

The running of PVV candidates in the central municipalities of the Hague and Almere marks the first time the anti-Muslim populist Wilders has attempted to establish his party in local government.

With roughly 50 per cent of the vote counted in the Hague on Wednesday night, the PVV was in second place behind the Labour Party, while early returns from Almere suggested the PVV was set to become the biggest single party there.

"This is an enormous breakthrough," Sietse Fritsma, the leading PVV candidate in the Hague, told cheering supporters. "This is going to drive established politics completely crazy."

Mr Wilders, who likens the Qur'an to Hitler's Mein Kampf and supports the deportation of Muslim immigrants, made banning headscarves from local council offices its main campaign pledge. Amidst heavy security, many muslims and non-muslims turned up to the voting booths in the two constituencies wearing headscarves as a sign of protest.

New poll

The local elections have been overshadowed however by the fall of the coalition government ten days ago, with new opinion poll results from Dutch broadcaster NOS suggesting Mr Wilders is set to become the main beneficiary of the fallout.

The poll predicted the PVV could take between 24 and 27 of the 150 seats in parliament, placing the party in the top three and making the Mr Wilders a key player in the Netherlands' highly fragmented political scene that usually sees two or three parties form a government. The PVV currently has 9 seats in the Dutch legislature.

If Mr Wilders repeats the performance in the June elections, he could become the next prime minister, according to national radio.

But despite signals it is willing to make compromises, many mainstream parties cannot imagine forming a coalition with the PVV party due to its extreme views, raising questions over the construction of the next government.

The recent collapse of the Christian Democrat-Labour coalition occured when the Labour party, the junior partner, refused to extend the presence of 2,000 Dutch troops in Afghanistan which are scheduled to be withdrawn from August onwards.

Both parties, the two largest in the Netherlands, lost votes in Wednesday's local elections. The other big winners in the vote were the left-of-centre parties Green Left, and Democrat 66.

"We have to stop this country getting more polarised, not only between ethnic groups but also between generations," declared Alexander Pechtold, leader of D66.

News in Brief

  1. Commuters seek compensation for Swedish ID checks
  2. EU needs 'firmness and dialogue' with Russia
  3. Moment of truth is coming on Ceta, says Belgian PM
  4. No immediate solution for EU-Ukraine deal, says Rutte
  5. Ceta could be last trade deal, Tusk warns
  6. Tusk: EU summit is no lion's den for British PM
  7. May: EU must stand against 'Russian aggression' in Syria
  8. Croatia appoints conservative Plenkovic as PM

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  2. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  3. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  4. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  5. EASPDJoin the Trip! 20 Years on the Road. Conference & Photo Exhibition on 19-21 October
  6. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  7. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  8. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  9. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  10. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  11. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersFish Skin on Bare Skin: Turning Fish Waste into Sustainable Fashion