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Vers a large victory for the far right in the legislative elections in the Netherlands

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Geert Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV), reacts to the results of the exit polls and the first results which indicate a victory for his party in the Dutch elections on November 22, 2023.

Agence France-Presse

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The Islamophobic Dutch far-right party of Geert Wilders came well ahead of the legislative elections on Wednesday in the Netherlands, according to exit polls , an electoral earthquake which risks being felt throughout Europe.

The PVV (Liberty Party), according to the Ipsos institute, won 35 seats out of 150, a victory considered very comfortable in a particularly fragmented lower house. Frans Timmermans' left-green alliance is second with 25 seats, while the center-right VVD won 24 seats.

The Mr Wilders' anti-immigration message appears to have resonated with Dutch voters, but the politician with the famous peroxide hair is far from guaranteed to become prime minister.

The PVV can no longer be ignored, he insisted, calling on the other parties to work together to form a coalition.

Before the elections, the leaders of the three other major parties had assured that they would not participate in a government led by the PVV.

But at the exit of the polls, the popular Pieter Omtzigt, who also takes a hard line on immigration, said he was available to lead the Netherlands while conceding that the process would not be easy. His New Social Contract (NSC) party, created last summer, would have won 20 seats.

Mr. Timmermans immediately rejected the idea of ​​joining a Mr. Wilders coalition. The time has come for us to defend democracy, he said.

It's a landslide victory and it sets up a whole new dynamic, Diederick van Wijk of the Clingendael Institute told AFP . The other parties made a strategic error by focusing on immigration, thus playing into the hands of the PVV, he believes.

Outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced in July the fall of the government after insurmountable differences on immigration. A few days later, he announced his desire to leave politics.

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Former Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on August 26, 2021. (File photo) overcoming scandals, Mr. Rutte spent more than 13 years at the head of the Netherlands, a record.

The candidate of the VVD – the party by Mr. Rutte – Dilan Yesilgöz also defended a firm position on limiting the number of asylum seekers.

This former refugee also caused controversy when she declared herself ready to govern with Mr. Wilders' party, but then rejected it. #x27;idea of ​​forming a government in which he would be Prime Minister.

If confirmed by the final results, Mr. Wilders' victory marks a sudden shift to the right which will be greeted with apprehension in Brussels: the PVV has notably promised a referendum on whether or not the Netherlands should remain in the country. European Union.

Hungarian nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban welcomed the winds of change on X. And the leader of the French National Rally Marine Le Pen congratulated Mr. Wilders and his party for their spectacular performance in the legislative elections which confirms the growing attachment to the defense of national identities.

Geert Wilders is sometimes referred to as the Dutch Trump, his hairstyle contributing to the comparison, but he actually entered politics long before the former US president.

Not hesitating to call Moroccans scum or to propose caricature contests of the Prophet Mohammed, Mr. Wilders has built his career fighting against what he calls an Islamic invasion of the West .

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Geert Wilders of the Netherlands Freedom Party, Matteo Salvini, Minister of the Interior of Italy, and Marine Le Pen , of the National Rally of France, participated in a nationalist and far-right party rally on May 18, 2019 in Milan. (File photo)

Neither his troubles with the law – which found him guilty of insulting Moroccans – nor the death threats against him, which have kept him under police protection since 2004, have discouraged him. .

More recently, Mr. Wilders has tried to tone down his populist rhetoric and focus on other voter concerns.

In addition to immigration, the Dutch are even more worried about whether they have more money left in their wallets, he insisted. He also said he was ready to put aside his opinions on Islam to govern.

But the PVV manifesto retained its xenophobic tone. It proposes the restoration of Dutch border control, the detention and expulsion of illegal immigrants, the return of Syrian asylum seekers and the reintroduction of work permits for intra-EU workers.

When it comes to foreign policy, he defends an approach: the Netherlands first. As for Islam, the PVV manifesto says: The Netherlands is not an Islamic country. No schools, Korans and mosques.

A very difficult period is beginning for Muslims, the agency told Dutch press ANP Muhsin Köktas, of the contact organization for Muslims and the government (CMO).

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