- Wilders’ far-right party is leading the Dutch elections
- Their fellow Eurosceptics welcome the win as a sign that Europe is changing
- Islamic groups express their concerns
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Geert Wilders, the far-right populist, said he wants to become the next prime minister of the Netherlands and will focus his efforts on reducing immigration, after his historic election victory that will have repercussions in the Netherlands and Europe.
Wilders, a fan of former US President Donald Trump and the Eurosceptic, anti-Islam and anti-EU Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has also pledged to reduce Dutch payments to the EU and block the entry of any new members, including Ukraine.
Although Wilders’s more extreme ideas will be rejected by the other parties he must work with in order to form a coalition government, his fellow populists, including Italy’s deputy prime minister and hard-right League leader Matteo Salvini, welcomed his victory as showing that “a government… A new “Europe is possible.”
Exceeding all expectations, Wilders’ Freedom Party won 37 seats out of 150 on Wednesday, far ahead of the 25 seats of the joint Labor/Greens list and the 24 seats of outgoing Prime Minister Mark’s conservative People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy. Roti.
Wilders told Dutch media on Thursday that he wants to become prime minister and that he supports holding a referendum on whether the Netherlands should leave the European Union.
“But the first thing is to impose major restrictions on asylum and immigration,” Wilders said. “We are not doing it for ourselves, we are doing it for all the Dutch who voted for us.”
While his party will get nearly a quarter of the seats in parliament, Wilders needs the major parties to join him in a coalition to govern and will have to moderate some of his views.
It is worth noting that none of the parties that Wilders could form a government with would be willing to leave the European Union or violate Dutch constitutional guarantees on freedom of religion, but he said he was confident an agreement could be reached.
A coalition of the Freedom Party, the VVD, and the National Security Council party led by centrist lawmaker Peter Umtsigt would gain 81 seats, making it the most obvious combination. Coalition talks are expected to take months, with FDP and National Security Council leaders expressing reservations about working with Wilders.
Wilders’ victory sends a warning shot to the main parties across Europe ahead of next June’s European Parliament elections, which are likely to be fought over the same issues as the Dutch election: immigration, costs of living and climate change.
Voter Hermann Borcher in the eastern town of Enschede said, welcoming the election results, “We got that with the old politicians.”
“The Netherlands needs change,” voter Sabine Schopen agreed, adding with a smile: “Goodbye Rutte, goodbye. Hello Geert Wilders.”
Poland’s election last month, won by a group of pro-European parties against the nationalist Law and Justice Party, shows that not all countries in the region are shifting to the right.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire quickly responded, saying: “The Netherlands is not France,” while acknowledging that the Dutch elections demonstrated “the concerns that are emerging in Europe” about immigration and the economy.
But Wilders’ victory comes two months after the return to power in Slovakia of anti-EU populist Robert Fico, who pledged to halt military aid to Ukraine and cut migration.
Orban said in Hungary: “The winds of change have blown!”
Wilders has repeatedly said that the Netherlands should stop providing weapons to Ukraine, as he says the country needs weapons to be able to defend itself. He is strongly pro-Israel.
Islamic and Moroccan organizations and other human rights groups expressed concern about Wilders’ victory. Muslims constitute about 5% of the population.
“The election results are shocking for Dutch Muslims,” said Mohsen Koktas, of the Dutch Islamic organization CMO. “We have great concerns about the future of Islam and Muslims in the Netherlands.”
“Yesterday, human rights were lost,” Amnesty International said.
All eyes will now be on Wilders’ potential government partners, who expressed serious doubts about working with him during the election campaign, but have now become less vocal after his victory.
“We are ready to rule,” said Umtsigt of the National Security Council party. “This is a difficult result. On Thursday we will discuss how we can best contribute.”
VVD leader Dylan Jeselgoz, who said earlier this week that her party would not join a Wilders-led government, said it was now up to the winner to show they could get a majority.
On Friday, party leaders will meet to decide on a “navigator”, a politician from outside the party who will hear from each party about the possibilities they see and prefer in coalition talks.
(Reporting by Bart Meijer, Charlotte van Campenhout, Anthony Deutsch, Johnny Cotton and Toby Stirling in Amsterdam and Petra Wischgol in Enschede – Preparing by Mohammed for the Arabic Bulletin – Preparing by Mohammed for the Arabic Bulletin) (Additional reporting by Alvise Armellini, Dominique Vidalon and Sudip Kar-Gupta) Writing by Ingrid Melander. Edited by Bernadette Baum and Toby Chopra
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