Pro-EU parties sweep Dutch poll

Pro-EU parties sweep Dutch poll

Pro-EU parties sweep Dutch poll

Dutch PM and centrist VVD-leader Mark Rutte speaks to members of his party at the Carlton Beach Hotel in Scheveningen. ‘Tonight let’s enjoy it, Then I’m going to get to work with you to help the Netherlands emerge from this crisis,’ Rutte says in his victory speech. EPA photo

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte claimed victory early yesterday for his conservative VVD party in national elections widely seen as a referendum on the Netherlands’ commitment to Europe.

With 92 percent of municipalities reporting, the VVD was set to take 41 seats in the 150-member Dutch
Parliament, two more than its largest rival, the center-left Labor party, while far-right leader Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam PVV party suffered a humiliating defeat after changing tack to attack Brussels. Rutte said Labor leader Diederik Samsom had called him to concede.

“Tonight let’s enjoy it, and tomorrow we have get to work to make sure a stable Cabinet is formed as soon as possible,” Rutte told the supporters at a beachside hotel in The Hague. “Then I’m going to get to work with you to help the Netherlands emerge from this crisis,” he said, referring to Europe’s debt crisis, which has left the Dutch economy in the doldrums.

The victory by Rutte’s VVD, closely followed by rising Labor star Diederik Samsom’s PvdA, means that the new coalition will be moderate and marks a victory for parties committed to debt-busting austerity.

Four Turkish deputies are chosen

The result sets the stage for the VVD and Labor, both pro-Europe parties, to forge a two-party ruling coalition with Rutte returning for a second term as prime minister. Formal coalition talks can’t start until official results are verified on Sept. 17 and the new Parliament is seated, next week at the earliest. Rutte said he wouldn’t comment on possible coalitions.

Four Dutch citizens of Turkish descent were elected, from a total of 14 Dutch-Turkish candidates running for office. Keklik Yücel, Tunahan Kuzu and Selçuk Öztürk from the PvdA and Sadet Karabulut of the Socialist Party were elected as members of Parliament.

Both top parties booked gains far greater than polls before the election had predicted, as voters strayed from smaller parties to support the two front runners. The election was cast as a virtual referendum on Europe amid the continent’s crippling debt crisis, but the result was a stark rejection of the most radical critic of the EU, anti-Islam firebrand Geert Wilders, whose Freedom Party was forecast to lose 8 seats, dropping to 16. Wilders, who brought down the last government in April after refusing to approve an austerity-driven budget, is not expected to play any role in this

“I’d rather have stood in front of you with good news,” a visibly shaken Wilders told his party’s gathering in The Hague, wiping a solitary tear from his eye. “In Brussels they are having a party... That’s a pity.” The PVV vowed to pull out of the euro and the EU itself if they came to power. But many Dutch voters decided that Wilders was simply unreliable. The Socialist Party, which briefly led in polls on its anti-austerity platform, wound up unchanged at 15 seats.