As polls closed for the European Elections in the Netherlands, the anti-EU Freedom Party of Geert Wilders appears to have suffered a setback. Early exit polls indicated they came in a surprise fourth place after leading in opinion polls for months.
At the party’s HQ Wilders remained philosophical about the poor showing.
“The situation right now is that we have fallen back from five seats to three (…) I still hope that on Sunday with the final results, we can still get the fourth seat, so that we can finish, just as five years ago, with four seats,” he said.
The news may also put a dent in Wilders’ ambitions of a strong alliance of eurosceptic parties in the Brussels parliament.
Euronews correspondent Olaf Bruns reported from the Netherlands: “For Geert Wilders it’s personally a bad result, but it’s also a bad start for the voting for his eurosceptic partners in other countries who, this time, promised a landslide.”
Though no official results can be released until 9pm GMT on Sunday, leader of the eurosceptic UKIP party Nigel Farage told the press he was reasonably confident of a strong showing as he cast his vote on Thursday in the UK.
Neighbouring Ireland is the next to vote on Friday along with the Czech Republic, with the remaining EU countries heading to the polls over the weekend.