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Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders won the majority of the vote in parliamentary elections and pledged to immediately cut immigration to the Netherlands, encouraging fellow nationalists and Eurosceptics across the EU.
Based on 98 percent of the votes counted, Wilder’s Freedom Party (PVV) is predicted to win 37 seats, doubling its total after Wednesday’s vote, according to news agency ANP.
Wilders vowed that he would seek to form a government that would prevent the “asylum tsunami” and ensure that “the Dutch get their country back”. He added: “We cannot be ignored.”
Wilders’ party was followed by a left-wing coalition led by former EU climate chief Franz Timmermans with 25 seats, followed by the liberal VVD with 23.
His victory will send shock waves through the European Union, which has struggled to absorb migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
Wilders also wants a referendum on leaving the EU. But the far-right politician, an anti-Islam campaigner who has vowed to ban the Koran and mosques, may struggle to find coalition partners for his ruling majority in the 150-seat lower house of parliament.
VVD leader Dilan Yesilkos-Jezerius said he did not think he would serve in a Wilders cabinet.
Center-right newcomer Peeter Omtzigt, a former Christian Democrat who only formed his new Social Contract party in August, has ruled out serving in a cabinet with Wilders. NSC is predicted to win 20 seats.
Some 26 parties contested the election, and a poll by broadcaster NPO found 16 parties likely to enter parliament. Analysts have said that whoever wins will need at least three other parties to form government – which could mean months of talks to form a government, with Prime Minister Mark Rutte in a caretaker capacity.
Rutte’s ruling coalition collapsed in July over efforts to curb immigration by making it harder to reunite asylum seekers with family members.
The election campaign was dominated by migration, a housing crisis squeezing youth and low-income families, and environmental restrictions on farming in the densely populated country of 18 million people.
Yeşilgöz-Zegerius said the country could not cope with the volume of arrivals. Net migration More than 220,000 in 2022, a tenfold increase in 20 years.
Omtzigt has recommended reducing annual numbers to 50,000, with EU nationals entitled to work anywhere in the group. Wilders still takes a hard line, but has dropped his anti-Islamic rhetoric in recent days.
Wilders still lives in a safe house and is under 24-hour guard because of death threats.
Late support for Wilders sparked a similar surge for Timmermans as left-wing voters sought to topple a right-wing government. The former EU commissioner leads the Labor and Greens coalition, which increased its lead by nine seats, according to the poll.
However, it will be difficult for Timmermans to form a government, as his closest ally, the progressive, liberal D66 group, will only win nine seats.
The Dutch system has no minimum threshold for entering parliament, so there are numerous factions, from the Party for Animals to Denk, which represent immigrants.