THE HAGUE — After the first election in a euro-zone country since the European economic crisis, Dutch voters found themselves divided politically on Thursday and surprised by the surge in popularity of an anti-immigrant party.Read the rest here.
With no party winning a majority in the 150-seat Parliament, the result of Wednesday’s voting is likely to mean a long and difficult negotiation over a new governing coalition that could contain three or more parties.
The pro-business Dutch Liberal Party had 31 seats and the center-left Labor Party 30, with 98 percent of the votes counted. But the far-right Freedom Party led by Geert Wilders demanded a share of government after it came in third with 24 seats, more than doubling its representation in the 150-member Parliament.
“We want to be part of the new government,” declared Mr. Wilders, whose party wants to end immigration from Muslim countries and ban new mosques.
“The impossible has happened,” he told a party gathering. “The Netherlands chose more security, less crime, less immigration and less Islam.”
The front-page headline Thursday in the NRC Next newspaper declared “A divided Netherlands.”
“Never has the voters’ message been so mixed,” NRC Next said in an editorial. “A stable governing coalition with three parties does not seem possible.”