Netherlands: Wilders' Party for Freedom in fourth place
The eurosceptic right-wing Party for Freedom (PVV) of Dutch politician Geert Wilders came in at a surprising fourth place in the Dutch EP elections yesterday. The preliminary results were reported by state television.
According to surveys in the run-up to the vote, the PVV was considered a favorite and was expected to receive around 23 % of the vote. Yesterday the EP elections were held in Britain as well, but preliminary estimates are not being published there.
In both countries, which have launched a four-day marathon of EP voting, the official results will not be announced until Sunday evening, when all voting throughout the EU ends. Exit polls in the Netherlands showed that Wilders' party has won 12.2 % of the vote.
This puts the PVV behind the left-wing liberal Democrats 66 party, which was supported by 15.6 % of voters, and the Christian Democratic Challenge (CDA), which received 15.2 %. The governing People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte, came in ahead of Wilders with 12.3 % of the vote, scoring slightly greater gains than during the last EP vote.
Dutch media report that around 37 % of the 12.5 million eligible voters turned out, approximately the same proportion as in 2009. They chose candidates for the 26 seats that belong to the Netherlands at the EP.
The exit poll results were based on responses from 40 000 voters. The survey was conducted by the IPSOS agency for state television in the Netherlands.
Should those estimates be confirmed tomorrow, it will be a big disappointment for infamous eurosceptic Wilders, as his party has been leading for several months in the polls. While the Dutch stopped voting at 21:00 CET yesterday, Britons had the opportunity to cast their votes until 23:00.
The other 26 Member States are also voting from Friday through Sunday. In the Czech Republic, the EP elections took place yesterday and today.
The very last polling place in the EU will not close until 23:00 CET on Sunday in Italy. Europe is continuing to recover from a deep financial crisis, unemployment in several countries is high, and economic growth is low.
It is anticipated that anti-EU, extremist parties could win support in more countries during these elections. Extremists in Britain could achieve better results than Wilders, as well as in France where nationalists from the Front National are favorites, with pre-election polls promising them as much as 23 % of the vote.
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