Geert Wilders and his right-wing, anti-euro Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) may not have done as badly in Thursday’s elections to the European Parliament as the first exit polls suggested.
Reuters reported on Thursday evening that an IPSOS exit poll on public television suggested Wilders’ party would finish fourth with 12.2 per cent, behind three pro-European parties, the centre-right Christian Democrats, the centrist Democrats 66 and Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s liberals.
But a poll published on the Geenstijl news site on Friday afternoon put Wilders’ party at number two with 13.2 per cent of the vote. The Democrats 66 were in the lead with 17.5 per cent but two other pro-EU parties, the Christian Democrats and the Liberal party, were trailing Wilders’ party at 12.5 per cent and 11.7 per cent.
The actual results of the elections will not be announced until Sunday evening, after all the voting has taken place in the 28 member states of the European Union. When the results were announced after the last election five years ago, Wilders’ party was shown to have won one seat more than the exit polls had indicated.
Wilders, whose party was at one point in recent months leading the opinion polls, on Thursday blamed the disappointing score on a low turnout, saying that “by staying home (voters) showed their loathing for and disinterest in the European Union. The Netherlands has not become more pro-European.”
Almost two-thirds of Dutch voters did not go to the polls.
Wilders’ PVV party however may also have been hurt by its alliance with Marine Le Pen, the head of France’s right-wing anti-EU Front National.
Wilders had wanted an election alliance with Nigel Farage and the UK Independence Party. Farage would have been a better fit with Dutch voters, but he rejected an alliance with Wilders.
The PVV has also been plagued by infighting.