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article imageDutch vote liberal in election, thump PM, reward Wilders

By Bradley Axmith     Jun 10, 2010 in Politics
Amsterdam - The anti-immigrant Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) led by controversial Geert Wilders surged beyond its pre-election 9 seats to achieve a breakthrough 24 mandates in the 150-seat Dutch parliament yesterday. The Liberals took a one-seat victory.
As the Dutch general election closed yesterday, Mark Rutte’s Dutch Liberal Party (VVD) won most seats with 31 mandates, followed by the Labour Party led by Job Cohen, who left his mayoral post in Amsterdam late last year to challenge the neo-liberal agenda of right-wing competitors. He's also critcized the firebrand Geert Wilders’ message that immigrants drain society and are a threat to the considerable welfare available in the Netherlands.
Cohen stewarded Amsterdam through an acute civil crisis in 2004 after ethnic tensions flared up subsequent to the murder of filmmaker Theo von Gogh by a Muslim assailant angered by the production of Submission, a film which criticised Islam’s repression of women.
Equal measures of anti-immigration and euro-skepticism made nationalism prominent both for the VVD and PVV parties, leading to many analysts’ prediction that a coalition government will include these two parties and see Wilders in a minister post.
Rutte’s party together with Wilders' is short 21 seats to reach the required 76-mandate majority, creating conditions for a long and tedious maelstrom of negations with other potential candidates that can last months.
The Liberals share a tough stance toward Muslim immigrants with the Freedom party but prefer austerity measures not compatible with that of Wilders’ social nationalist platform. Plus, there is the added problem of incorporating Wilders' party into a government at a time when hard pragmatic decisions could be sidetracked by the Freedom party’s populist tactics to gain yet more influence.
According to Professor Henk van der Liet of Amsterdam University, Wilder has not cultivated a lieutenant to lead his party in parliament should he be included in any future caucus, creating the image of an unviable governing partner.
Wilders wasted no time stirring up his party faithful the night before any potential negotiations will begin.
“And I say to all the newly elected Freedom Party MPs of our beautiful party, bring battering rams with you, because starting tomorrow, we're going to give them hell!” he said to raucous applause.
A sign with posters of political candidates in the Netherlands
A sign with posters of political candidates in the Netherlands
Until a coalition manifests, the outgoing Prime Minister of 8 years, Jan Peter Balkenende, will care-take the Dutch government to transition. He stepped down as leader of the Christian Democrats and announced his resignation from politics yesterday just as soon as he is relieved by a successor following his party’s resounding smack down from 41 seats to 21.
Balkenende's government fell late last year when the Labour party, its coalition partner, refused to support a motion to extend the Dutch combat mission in Afghanistan, an issue utterly absent from this contest.
The Netherlands is the first Euro-zone country to hold elections in the wake of the currency crisis created by Greece’s insolvency, boosting nationalist tendencies and anger toward the European project.
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