Netherlands far-right politician Geert Wilders, wielding an anti-immigration, anti-Islam and anti-EU bouquet, packs a punch that is making Europe’s mainstream nervous.
His Freedom Party could occupy four of the 25 Dutch seats in the European Parliament. Polls placed it second behind the ruling Christian Democrats in Thursday’s voting, and it beat coalition partners Labour into third rank. The pro-EU Democrats and the Christian Union will also keep seats. But the as yet unofficial poll clearly sends a signal — move over — although Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende rejected this was a vote against his cabinet. In reference to the publication of any results, a spokesman at the European Commission said: “We are going to ask for clarifications from the Dutch authorities about yesterday evening’s events, and in light of that information we will verify whether there was any violation of community law.” The EU rules say to keep them under wraps until polls in all the member states have closed. It is even prohibited to publish what the participation rate is, which for the Dutch seemed to be 36 percent.