Far-Right Dutch Leader Headed for Landslide Win

Geert Wilders could be the Netherlands' next PM
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 22, 2023 4:04 PM CST
Far-Right Dutch Leader Headed for Landslide Win
Dilan Yesilgoz-Zegerius, leader of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, known by Dutch acronym VVD, crosses her fingers after casting her ballot in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023.   (AP Photo/Patrick Post)

Far-right, anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders was headed for a landslide victory Wednesday in the Dutch election, according to an exit poll, a result bound to send shockwaves through Europe. The result puts him in line to lead talks to form a new ruling coalition and possibly become the country's prime minister, the AP reports. The exit poll published by the national broadcaster NOS said Wilders' Party for Freedom won 35 seats in the 150-seat lower house of parliament, more than double the 17 he won at the last election. The closest party to Wilders' Party for Freedom was an alliance of the center-left Labor Party and Green Left, which was forecast to win 26 seats.

Wilders' election program includes calls for a referendum on the Netherlands leaving the European Union, a total halt to accepting asylum-seekers, and migrant pushbacks at the Dutch borders. It also advocates the "de-Islamization" of the Netherlands, although he has been milder about Islam during this election campaign than in the past. But the lawmaker, who has in the past been labeled a Dutch version of Donald Trump, first would have to form a coalition government before he can take the reins of power. That will be tough as mainstream parties are reluctant to join forces with him and his party, but the size of his victory strengthens his hand in any negotiations.

The exit poll was published as voting ended in the general election. It can have a margin of error of up to three seats, but generally is accurate within one or two seats, Ipsos said. The election was called after the fourth and final coalition of outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte resigned in July after failing to agree to measures to rein in migration. Rutte was replaced by Dilan Yesilgöz-Zegerius, a former refugee from Turkey who could have become the country's first female prime minister had her party won the most support. Instead, it was forecast to lose 11 seats to end up with 23. (Another Dutch far-right leader was attacked in a bar on Monday.)

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