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5 things we learned from the Dutch election

FILE: In this Nov. 23, 2016 file photo, populist anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders prepares to address judges at his hate speech trial
FILE: In this Nov. 23, 2016 file photo, populist anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders prepares to address judges at his hate speech trial Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Euronews with AP, AFP
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This was the biggest win in the history of the far-right party lead by controversial anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders.

1. The PVV party's win is big, and unprecedented

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The scale of the victory by Geert Wilders' PVV party was far beyond what pollsters had predicted, and doubles the number of seats he won in parliament at the last election. 

Not only is it the PVV's best-ever election result but it's also the first time since WWII that the largest party in the Netherlands doesn't come from the liberal centre-right or centre-left European party family. 

So how did Wilders do it? It appears as if he mobilised his 2021 voters to get out to the polls again, but he also looks to have won over people who abstained in 2021 as well as gathered support from other right-wing parties. 

2. Geert Wilders still needs to build a coalition

Far-right anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders may have doubled his party's seats in the Dutch parliament at Wednesday's election, but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll become prime minister. 

Wilders will have to form a coalition with other parties to reach a majority in parliament (or try to govern with a minority), and in politics that always entails compromises to be able to work together. 

The leader of the New Social Contract party, which was only launched three months ago, said he would be open to talks with Wilders. The party won an estimated 20 seats in the election. 

The centre-left coalition of the Labour Party and Green Party is forecast to win 26 seats but leader Frans Timmermans has already ruled out working with Wilders. 

"We will never form a coalition with parties that pretend that asylum seekers are the source of all misery," Timmermans said. 

FILE: Populist Dutch anti-immigration lawmaker Geert Wilders in parliament, The Hague, September 2023
FILE: Populist Dutch anti-immigration lawmaker Geert Wilders in parliament, The Hague, September 2023AP Photo

3. Informers and shapers - Dutch politics is complicated!

The process of forming a new government begins when all the parties have preliminary discussions to explore what combination of parties might be able to work together to reach the magic majority threshold of 76 seats in 150-seat parliament. 

The lower house then appoints an "informer", who is responsible for defining the possible contours of a coalition agreement. Until 2012, this person was appointed by the King.

When it appears that a group of parties can work together, a "shaper" is appointed - almost always the person who won the election, who begins the delicate work of putting together a potential cabinet.

The parties then sign a coalition agreement and the new government presents its plans to the lower house, which then has to vote on them in a vote of confidence.

4. A new government is likely going to take a long time to form

The process sounds unique, the coalition talks will be difficult, so how long could all of this take?

The answer: A long time. 

Dutch parties usually fight for months to include as many points as possible from their programmes in the coalition agreement, even before the race for office begins.

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After the 2021 elections, it took a record 271 days to create the coalition that was to be outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte's last.

It could take even longer this time, as most analysts do not expect a government to be formed before the summer of 2024. 

In the meantime, Mark Rutte and his government will remain in charge. 

FILE: Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders, left, and Belgian anti-immigrant politician Filip Dewinter talking at Dutch Parliament, November 2017
FILE: Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders, left, and Belgian anti-immigrant politician Filip Dewinter talking at Dutch Parliament, November 2017Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP

5. Nexit: Geert Wilders wants a referendum to leave the EU

Although forging alliances and working together in a coalition government requires compromises, Geert Wilders has some policy plans which will send a chill around Europe, and be felt in Brussels in particular. 

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Although (so far) there's no particular appetite in the Netherlands for leaving the EU, Wilders says he wants to have a 'Nexit' referendum. 

Among other controversial policies, he also wants an "asylum stop" and "no Islamic schools, Qurans and mosques," although he pledged Wednesday night not to breach Dutch laws or the country's constitution that enshrines freedom of religion and expression.

Geert Wilders is also a staunch supporter of Israel and advocates shifting the Embassy of the Netherlands from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and closing the Dutch diplomatic post in Ramallah, home of the Palestinian Authority.

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