Friday

28th Apr 2017

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.

Netherlands to beef up border surveillance

Heavily reliant on the anti-immigrant vote, the Dutch government plans to introduce an automatic video-surveillance system along its borders. Hague diplomats meanwhile are breaking ranks over what they see as the Netherlands' increasingly isolationist stance.

EPP group frustrated with Orban

Orban's ruling Fidesz party is getting too much to handle for the EPP group, as they are once again forced to defend the Hungarian premier's controversial actions.

Analysis

Orban set to face down EU threats

The European Commission and Parliament are to debate Hungary's slide into illiberal democracy. But the bloc continues to think that Hungarian leader Viktor Orban is not a systemic threat.

European right divided on EU values after Brexit

A day after the UK notified its exit from the EU, leaders of the European People's Party expressed a different vision of Europe's identity, with Hungary's Orban calling for a stop to the Muslim "invasion".

France still anxious over possibility of Le Pen win

Despite opinion polls that place centrist Macron well ahead of the far-right leader Le Pen in the 7 May presidential run-off, doubts are emerging about his capacity to unite the French people around his candidacy.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  2. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act
  3. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  4. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  6. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  7. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  8. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  9. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  10. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  11. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?

Latest News

  1. EPP group frustrated with Orban
  2. Verdacht gegen Russland bezüglich Macronhacking
  3. 'Serene' EU warns UK against Brexit 'illusions'
  4. EU telecom watchdog plan dead on arrival
  5. Russische Fake-News überschwemmen die sozialen Medien Frankreichs
  6. EU agency stuck with London rent bill
  7. EU anti-fraud office ditches Martin Schulz probe
  8. Commission launches bid to make Europe social