Dutch election: everything you need to know as tricky coalition talks loom
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Over 90 per cent of the votes have been counted in the Dutch general election and the prospect of a major swing towards anti-Islam candidate Geert Wilders have been dashed.
Despite having polled in first place at the start of the year, Mr Wilders’ one-man PVV party is on course to have gained 5 seats in the country’s 150-seat parliament, taking his total to 20 and putting him in second place behind the ruling liberal VVD. With the country’s mainstream parties promising not to work with Mr Wilders, he will be shut out of any governing coalition.
“We were the 3rd largest party of the Netherlands. Now we are the 2nd largest party. Next time we will be [number] 1!”, tweeted Mr Wilders this morning, after running on a one-page manifesto that promised to ban the Quran and close all Dutch mosques.
Here’s everything you need to know about the results:
- Pro-Europe parties make gains: In a night with few big winners, the Netherlands’ smaller pro-Europe parties can claim victory. The centrist D66 and Green Left (Groen Links) are on course to become the third and fourth largest parties respectively after gains of seven and 10 seats. The Greens are set for their best ever performance.
- Rutte’s survival: the ruling VVD party of prime minister Mark Rutte enjoyed a late bounce in the polls after his tough stance in a diplomatic spat with Turkey. Having swung to the right on issues such as immigration and integration, Mr Rutte’s party looks to have shed around 8 seats but will still be in pole position to head up a new coalition. “Mr Rutte is set to remain Dutch prime minister”, said analysts at Barclays.
- Labour trounced: having served in coalition with the VVD, the Dutch Labour party has lost over 75 per cent of its seats, with support shedding to its left, liberal and right-wing rivals. The demise of the PvdA, whose seat share has collapsed from 38 to 9, will also raise questions about the future of Labour MP Jeroen Dijsselbloem who is also head of the eurozone’s finance ministers.
- On course for a four-party coalition: fragmentation looks to be the main takeaway from the results with over 10 parties in possible contention for governing party talks. A four-party coalition the most likely outcome to achieve a majority (see below via Barclays).
- 80 per cent turnout: the Dutch turned out in droves to vote, with turnout of over 80 per cent expected and a hefty increase from the 70 per cent in 2012 in an election which was hailed as a bellwether for populist sentiment in the eurozone
- The markets like it: the euro is trading at a one-month high and the spread between Dutch and German 10 year bonds has slipped to its lowest since February this morning
- No more Nexit, but what next for the economy? Mr Wilders’ nascent hopes of a Dutch exit from the euro are no longer on the cards, but any new coalition could well lead to a slight easing in the broad austerity regime of the last four years, according to Dutch bank ING. Marieke Blom, chief economist at ING, thinks a broad centre-right/liberal coalition is likely to “cut taxes for households, and increase government spending somewhat, while possibly also reforming the labour market and the pension system”.
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