Netherlands: Geert Wilders' far right wins legislative elections, according to exit polls

The Dutch Islamophobic far-right party of Geert Wilders won the legislative elections on Wednesday (November 22), in a political earthquake that will be felt well beyond the borders of the Netherlands

Netherlands: Geert Wilders' far right wins legislative elections, according to exit polls

The Dutch Islamophobic far-right party of Geert Wilders won the legislative elections on Wednesday (November 22), in a political earthquake that will be felt well beyond the borders of the Netherlands.

The PVV (Freedom Party) won 35 seats and a comfortable electoral victory, according to the Ipsos exit poll. The left alliance of Frans Timmermans is second with 26 seats. The center-right VVD won 23 seats, according to this poll.

If confirmed by the final results, Mr. Wilders' victory marks a sharp turn to the right which will be greeted with apprehension in Brussels: the PVV has notably promised a referendum on the accession of the Netherlands to the European Union.

“It may not be what other parties in Europe or other countries are looking for, but hey, that’s democracy,” the 60-year-old politician said after casting his vote.

His anti-immigration message, including closing borders and deporting illegal immigrants, appears to have resonated with Dutch voters.

Xenophobic discourse and the threat of “Nexit”

Not hesitant to call Moroccans “scum” or to propose caricature contests of the Prophet Muhammad, Mr. Wilders has built his career crusading against what he calls an “Islamic invasion” of the West.

“Asylum seekers feast on delicious free buffets on cruise ships while Dutch families must cut back on purchases,” reads the PVV manifesto. Proposed anti-immigration measures include reinstating Dutch border control, detaining and deporting illegal immigrants, and banning the wearing of headscarves in government buildings.

On foreign policy, it advocates a “Netherlands first” approach that includes closing its representation in Ramallah and strengthening ties with Israel, including moving its embassy to Jerusalem. A “binding referendum” on “Nexit”, the Netherlands’ exit from the EU, is also on the programme, as well as an “immediate end” to development aid.

Hungarian nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban hailed on X "the winds of change" after the victory of Geert Wilders' far right during the legislative elections in the Netherlands.

The challenge of forming a government

But if Mr. Wilders seems to have triumphed in the polls, it is not certain that he will succeed in forming a government coalition. The leaders of the three other main parties have assured that they will not participate in a coalition led by the PVV.

Geert Wilders this Wednesday evening called on other Dutch parties to work together to form a coalition, stressing that his PVV (Freedom Party) party “can no longer be ignored”. The left and environmentalist alliance of Frans Timmermans is second with 26 seats. The center-right VVD won 23 seats, according to this Ipsos poll. However, a coalition needs 76 seats out of the 150 in the lower house of Parliament to govern.

Once the final results are known, we will get out the calculators to establish which combination of the numerous parties having obtained seats will be able to reach this number. Forming a cabinet is, then, “a complex and exciting process”, assures Parliament on its website. After the 2021 elections, it took 271 days to create the coalition that was to be Prime Minister Mark Rutte's last, a record.