The far-right has made strong gains in European parliamentary voting in the Netherlands. After polling stations had closed, Dutch television said that, with nearly 15 percent, the Freedom Party looked poised to take four seats in the European Parliament, where till now it has had none.
The major Dutch parties all lost seats. The traditionally pro-EU country and founding member of the bloc is represented by 25 MEPs. Forty percent of the electorate of 13 million was estimated to have cast a ballot.
Far right anti-Islam leader Geert Wilders has said he will not take up a seat. His growing popularity is seen to reflect rising euroscepticism. Remember, the Dutch rejected the European constitution in a referendum in 2005. One of Wilders’ key pledges is also to stop Turkey’s bid to join the 27-member EU.
The Christian Democrats, led by Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, made a five-seat showing according to exit polls. Labour, in the ruling coalition, took three seats in the European assembly, in third place behind the far right.
The Dutch authorities had wanted to publish their voting results swiftly, but decided to wait, in line with EU rules. These require that all the member states have voted, this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.