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Wilders, PVV Look Forward to National Elections

March 4, 2010

If yesterday’s Dutch municipal elections were any indicator, the future of the Netherlands might be taking a significant step to the right. In the only two cities where it ran lists, Almere and the Hague, the anti-Islam, populist Party for Freedom (PVV), led by its charismatic founder, Geert Wilders, fared quite well becoming the largest and second largest party in power, respectively. But Wilders is already looking ahead to the June 9th parliamentary elections: “The national campaign begins today. Today, in Almere and The Hague, tomorrow in all of the Netherlands… On 9 June, we’ll conquer the Netherlands.”

The suggestion that the PVV could “conquer the Netherlands” is just slightly hyperbolic and even more unlikely. In a country where ten parties (plus one independent) share the 150 seats in parliament, a party winning an outright majority of the seats is not even a consideration. Since 1918, when proportional representation was introduced in the Netherlands, not once has there been a single-party majority in the parliament. Thus, the ability for parties to form a majority coalition is key to creating an effective government in the Netherlands.

According to a Politieke Barometer, if national elections had been held March 2nd, the PVV would have 26 seats in parliament, making it the third largest party and increasing its current share by 17 seats. This certainly would mean that the PVV would have to be considered as a potential coalition partner, most likely for the right-of-center and largest votegetting party, the Christen Democratisch Appel (CDA).

But third place is no guarantee of inclusion as a coalition partner. One must only look to the recently collapsed Dutch government for an example. The leftist Socialistische Partij (SP) won 25 seats, but was unable to negotiate satisfactory compromises with the CDA to be a part of the coalition. Wilders may find himself in a similar situation come June. His parties extreme views on immigration and Islam could be deal breakers.

Even still, the opinion polls show that the PVV must be taken seriously by the CDA and Labor parties. The move to the right and left of center by voters that began in 2006 seems to be continuing and may be too much for these traditional powers to counter.

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