EU Elections: Big Gains for Dutch Populist Wilders, Pro-Farmer Party Wins First Seats in EU Parliament

Dutch BBB party leader Caroline van der Plas poses prior to a conversation with informants
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Dutch populist leader Geert Wilders declared his Party for Freedom was the “biggest winner” in the country’s EU Parliament elections on Thursday as exit polls predict massive gains for the anti-mass migration party.

The Party for Freedom (PVV) built upon its recent domestic success on Thursday, with exit polls predicting that the populist party will secure at least seven seats in the next European Parliament after winning zero seats in the 2019 EU elections. According to the initial estimates from Ipsos on behalf of public broadcaster NOS, this marked the largest gains for any Dutch party and the largest total for PVV in its history.

However, while the PVV was the big winner of the evening, celebrations were somewhat muted as the exit polls predicted that the alliance between the Green Left and the Labour Party (GroenLinks-PvdA) of Green Deal architect Frans Timmermans would come out on top with 8 seats. However, this is one fewer than the previously separate parties secured in 2019 and Wilders noted that it is still possible for his party to gain an extra seat after official results are revealed.

Wilders said: “I am very happy… We have never had seven seats before. This is unprecedented. We are by far the biggest winner. I hope that we will still become the biggest on Sunday. A better result is of course always possible, but I actually did not expect it. We are extremely grateful to the voters .”

The Dutch politician also said that the large vote share received by his party will likely be replicated by other anti-mass migration parties throughout Europe as they head to the polls this week, saying: “You will see that the Eurosceptical voice will grow and become stronger within the European Parliament… And that is of course very good news. A signal to the elites in Brussels that things will change.”

This was seconded by the leader of the PVV’s sister party in Belgium, with Vlaams Belang (VB) leader Tom Van Grieken saying that Wilders’ success is a “very hopeful signal” for his own Flemish party’s chances on Sunday.

“The party is now repeating its enormous growth in the European elections. What is possible in the Netherlands can also be done in Flanders on Sunday,” he said.

Thursday evening also saw success for the upstart Farmer Citizen-Movement (BBB) party, which is projected to have beaten out multiple parties to win at least two seats in the EU Parliament.

Despite having only been formed in 2019, the tractor protest party is building a history of success, having won a stunning upset last year in the provincial elections to become the largest party in the Dutch Senate on the heels of an outpouring of anger at the green agenda of Brussels and the neoliberal Rutte government in The Hague. The party will also be one of the chief partners of Wilders as he seeks to form a coalition government later this month after having won last year’s elections, meaning that the farmer party will also likely have a large influence over the future governance of The Netherlands.

Commenting on Thursday’s results, BBB leader Caroline van der Plas said:  “I’m so happy, so happy! European elections are far away for many people, but you can see from the turnout that people thought: we just have to get in.”

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