There is disappointment for those who thought the Dutch elections would provide a quick answer on the make-up of the next government. Queen Beatrix is expected to name a mediator to start a lengthy process of working out the shape of a coalition of several parties.
The incumbent Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende’s Christian Democrats won the most seats, but not a majority. What is clear is that the main centrist parties lost votes to the far left and right. The far-left Socialists, led by Jan Marijinissen, became the third largest party, and an anti-immigration party won nine seats. That means the current Christian Democrats coalition cannot rule, and neither can the current Labour-led alliance.
Balkenende has described the election results as complicated and says it will take time to find solutions. Observers say the main parties decided to largely focus on the economy and not immigration during campaigning, misreading the concerns of many voters.