Geert Wilders aiming to be PM after shock Dutch election result for far-right party and calls for immediate asylum restriction – live | Netherlands

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Geert Wilders aims to be PM after shock result and calls for immediate asylum and immigration restriction

Geert Wilders said today that he wants to be prime minister and that he was in favour of a referendum on whether the Netherlands should leave the European Union, Reuters reported.

“But the first thing is a significant restriction on asylum and immigration,” the far-right politician said.

Wilders also said that if he were to become prime minister, he would be prime minister for all Dutch people.

Onze nieuwe fractie van maar liefst 37 leden (!) kwam voor het eerst bijeen vanmorgen onder het toeziend oog van heel veel pers. We gaan keihard werken om Nederlanders weer op 1 te zetten! #PVV pic.twitter.com/97VOxeCX4d

— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) November 23, 2023

Key events

Caroline van der Plas, the leader of the Farmer–Citizen Movement (BBB), said today she was interested in entering a coalition with Geert Wilders’ PVV, provided that he moderate some of his positions, NOS reported.

BBB won seven seats.

Rem Korteweg, a senior research fellow at the Clingendael Institute, a Dutch thinktank, says the Netherlands is not leaving the EU anytime soon – but that the spectre of an exit is back in Dutch politics.

“If Wilders is able to form a government, it will be very critical of any new EU initiatives, spending, agreements or enlargement,” he said.

#Nexit won’t happen (any time soon), but its spectre is back in Dutch politics.

If Wilders is able to form a government, it will be very critical of any new EU initiatives, spending, agreements or enlargementhttps://t.co/w4jthpEAql

— Rem Korteweg (@remkorteweg) November 23, 2023

Here is footage of a dramatic election night in the Netherlands yesterday.

Exit polls suggest Wilders’ far-right party to win most seats in Dutch elections – video

Dirk Gotink, spokesperson for the president of the centre-right European People’s party, Manfred Weber, said migration was “underestimated by the left” and that the VVD’s “mistake” was “not the topic, it was normalizing Wilders from the start”.

Migration is a key concern across all of the electorate. It is underestimated by the left, and they are paying the price for it, with the worst combined result in decades. The VVD mistake was not the topic, it was normalizing Wilders from the start. https://t.co/hPdXQ3bPUh

— Dirk Gotink (@DirkGotink) November 23, 2023

Lisa O'Carroll

Lisa O’Carroll

In Rotterdam, the Dutch election’s outcome is hardly a shock to either supporters or opponents of Geert Wilders.

Annie, 66, a retired secretary, who voted to keep the outgoing prime minister Mark Rutte’s party in power said: “I thought he would get a lot of votes but not this much, but it is not a surprise, people are very angry about immigration, housing, the elderly, everything but I hope that Wilders won’t stay in government.”

Down the road from Rotterdam Centraal station, Jeannette, 34, is receiving a delivery of bags of potatoes for the chip shop where she works.

She voted for Wilders, largely out of anger that she and her family including grandparents have to pay so much for everything.

“While he said ‘enough is enough’ he is right ‘enough is enough’. We pay too much tax, too much for healthcare, too much for rent. We can’t take it any more.

She doesn’t agree with all his past declarations including a ban on the hijab. “If people want to wear that I understand.”

Geert Wilders aims to be PM after shock result and calls for immediate asylum and immigration restriction

Geert Wilders said today that he wants to be prime minister and that he was in favour of a referendum on whether the Netherlands should leave the European Union, Reuters reported.

“But the first thing is a significant restriction on asylum and immigration,” the far-right politician said.

Wilders also said that if he were to become prime minister, he would be prime minister for all Dutch people.

Onze nieuwe fractie van maar liefst 37 leden (!) kwam voor het eerst bijeen vanmorgen onder het toeziend oog van heel veel pers. We gaan keihard werken om Nederlanders weer op 1 te zetten! #PVV pic.twitter.com/97VOxeCX4d

— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) November 23, 2023

Readers weigh in on the Dutch election results

A number of readers have sent in their thoughts on the outcome of the election.

“People didn’t learn much from history. The intolerance is unbelievable,” wrote one reader.

Another noted: “The disconnect between the biggest cities and the countryside is huge.”

And while the election was not about the Netherlands’ membership in the EU, some British readers living in the country have raised concerns about the Netherlands’ future in the bloc.

One reader, however, celebrated the results, expressing hope that after Argentina and the Netherlands, the right would do well in the United States next year.

So what’s next? The Netherlands is likely to enter a complicated period of coalition-building.

Geert Wilders’ far-right Party for Freedom got the most seats – but that doesn’t mean he will necessarily end up in government.

A GreenLeft-Labour party alliance (GL/PvdA) has 25 seats, and the Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) is at 24 seats. Put together with the New Social Contract’s (NSC) 20 seats and the social liberal Democrat 66’s nine seats, this type of grouping could have 78 seats – a majority.

One alternative configuration could include Wilders: if the VVD and NSC agree to enter a coalition with PVV. Such a coalition would have 81 votes.

As the Netherlands – and European capitals – assess the unexpected outcome of the Dutch election, Geert Wilders is celebrating with cake.

Dutch far-right politician and leader of the PVV party, Geert Wilders cuts a cake as he meets members of his party at the Dutch parliament in The Hague.
Dutch far-right politician and leader of the PVV party, Geert Wilders cuts a cake as he meets members of his party at the Dutch parliament in The Hague. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters

The Austrian Freedom Party’s Harald Vilimsky said he is proud of his political friends, posting a photo with Italy’s Matteo Salvini, France’s Marine Le Pen and the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders.

Le Pen: Wilders’ results consequence of ‘normalisation’

Angelique Chrisafis

Angelique Chrisafis

The French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, whose National Rally party is the biggest single opposition party in the French parliament, congratulated Geert Wilders.

Le Pen described Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV) as an ally with her party in the European parliament, telling France Inter radio that Wilders’ election performance showed that “more and more countries at the heart of the EU are contesting the way it works … and want us to master immigration, which is seen by many European peoples as massive and totally anarchic today”.

She said Wilders’ positions on Europe raised the question of what Europe had become: “An obese, technocratic structure that moves forward by sanctions and threats.”

Asked if she backed Wilders’ outrageous style of politics, she said that wasn’t up to her, the parties were different. She said he had sometimes used shock tactics: “That’s his method, that’s his way”.

Le Pen said she felt he had “evolved” on that and that his results were the consequence of a kind of “normalisation”.

The French finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, told Franceinfo radio that Wilders’ showing was a consequence of “all the fears that are emerging in Europe” over immigration and the economy.

But he also said: “The Netherlands are not France.”

“La bonne nouvelle, c’est quand les peuples peuvent s’exprimer !”

Marine Le Pen salue la victoire du parti d’extrême droite PVV aux élections législatives néerlandaises. “Geert Wilders et son mouvement sont des alliés du Rassemblement national”, dit-elle. #le710inter pic.twitter.com/3XS1aHQU0l

— France Inter (@franceinter) November 23, 2023

Jan Zahradil, a Czech member of the European parliament and leading figure within the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, said this morning that the “mainstream establishment” has been “left shocked”.

“But if they don’t take this message seriously, other countries will follow suit,” he said, adding:

And the message? Enough migration. Enough Green Deal. Enough Brussels interference.

Geert Wilders decisively won Dutch snap elections. Mainstream establishment left shocked, but if they don’t take this message seriously, other countries will follow suit.
And the message? Enough migration. Enough Green Deal. Enough Brussels interference.
It’s as simple as that. https://t.co/Sdtmm1Eq9F

— Jan Zahradil (@ZahradilJan) November 23, 2023

Hein de Haas, a sociologist at the University of Amsterdam, said today that the VVD’s strategy of focusing the campaign on immigration had backfired and legitimised the far-right candidate Geert Wilders.

Dutch election summary: The leading VVD party had the cabinet fall over asylum and centred the entire campaign on immigration. This strategy backfired as it actually legitimised Wilders, leading him to triumph. As JM Le Pen already said, people vote for the original, not the copy

— Hein de Haas (@heindehaas) November 23, 2023

Alexander Clarkson, a lecturer in German and European studies at King’s College London, said this morning: “Left and right as broader camps each have a substantial presence and will still do so.

“What is constantly shifting is which strand of the right – from far right to far right populists to conservatives to Christian democrats to rightish neo-liberals – is dominant at any one time.”.

He said Geert Wilders, like Jörg Haider in Austria, “has built his success on condemning coalition horsetrading that imposed policy compromise at the expense of ideological purism on every other Dutch party”.

He added:

I suspect the trajectory of Wilders in power would be that of Haider as a populist entirely focused on gaining power yet struggles to use it effectively once it is in his hands rather than that of a canny strategist like Giorgia Meloni.

A characteristic that Far Right populists like Haider, Farage and Wilders share is a desperate hankering after respect from the political establishment they spend their careers condemning.

A characteristic that Far Right populists like Haider, Farage and Wilders share is a desperate hankering after respect from the political establishment they spend their careers condemning

— Alexander Clarkson  (@APHClarkson) November 23, 2023

Geert Wilders celebrated this morning as counting showed his far right PVV party took 37 seats – two more than expected in last night’s exit polling and significantly more than predicted in opinion polling during the campaign.

Geert Wilders’ far-right, anti-Islam Party for Freedom (PVV) is on course to be the largest party in the Dutch parliament, in a major electoral upset whose reverberations will be felt around Europe.

The PVV, whose manifesto includes calls for bans on mosques, the Qur’an and Islamic headscarves in government buildings, is expected to win 37 seats in the 150-seat parliament, more than double the number it won in the previous ballot in 2021.

However, it is unclear whether Wilders – whose party has finished second and third in previous elections, but always been shut out of government – will be able to win enough support to form a coalition with a working parliamentary majority.

“I call on the parties,” Wilders said in an initial reaction after the vote. “The campaign is over and the voters have spoken. Now we will have to look for agreements with each other.”

He insisted in his victory speech that he was “confident we can reach an agreement”, adding: “I understand perfectly well we should not take any measures that would be unconstitutional.”

Far-right figures across Europe, including Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, France’s Marine Le Pen, Matteo Salvini in Italy, and Germany’s AfD rushed to congratulate the PVV leader.

The heads of the three other biggest Dutch parties have all said they would not serve in a PVV-led cabinet.

Read more here.

Jon Henley, Pjotr Sauer and Senay Boztas

Wilders’ far-right Party for Freedom takes 37 seats

With nearly all votes counted, preliminary results in the Dutch election show Geert Wilders’ far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) took 37 seats, more than any other party and significantly more than expected in opinion polling during the campaign.

A GreenLeft-Labour party alliance (GL/PvdA) led by the former EU commissioner Frans Timmermans finished second with 25 seats.

The liberal-conservative Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), led by the outgoing justice minister, Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius, got 24 seats.

Much will now depend on a coalition-building process.

Geert Wilders on PVV election signs at the Binnenhof
Geert Wilders on PVV election signs at the Binnenhof, a day after the elections. Photograph: Hollandse Hoogte/Shutterstock

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