The far right in the Netherlands is celebrating big gains in the European elections, with exit polls showing the anti-immigration Freedom Party in second place. It is on course to capture four of the countries 25 seats in the European parliament, representing 15 percent of the vote. Previously it had no seats.
Its leader Geert Wilders said: “We really had a strong message that we don’t want to spend our money in Romania and Portugal but here in Holland. We never want Turkey to join the European Union, and we don’t want this large European super-state. And secondly, because a lot of people are very much against this current government, are very fed up with it, we are a very strong and prosperous and positive alternative to that.” The main parties of the ruling centre-right coalition, all lost ground, with the prime minister’s party remaining just one seat ahead of the Freedom Party. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said: “I congratulate, of course, the Freedom Party and the party D66, one party is anti-European and the other is pro-European. And then for my own party, the Christian Democrats, we were the largest party and we continue to be that, and I’m happy with that result.” The results will not be confirmed until after the rest of the EU votes on Sunday. But if the trends set in the Netherlands are borne out across the bloc, a low turn-out is likely and that could boost extremist parties in many counties.