Anti-Islam populist Wilders 'tops poll' in Netherlands - RTHK
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Anti-Islam populist Wilders 'tops poll' in Netherlands

2023-11-23 HKT 08:50
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  • Anti-Islam populist Wilders 'tops poll' in Netherlands
Dutch anti-EU far-right populist Geert Wilders, who has vowed to halt all immigration to the Netherlands, was set for a major victory in parliamentary elections on Wednesday, an exit poll showed.

Beating all predictions, the exit poll put Wilders' Freedom Party (PVV) at 35 out of 150 seats, 10 seats ahead of the closest rival, former EU Commissioner Frans Timmermans' Labour/Green Left combination. That margin was far more than expected and appeared to be too great for the outcome to change.

Exit polls are generally reliable with a margin of error of roughly two seats.

At a cafe in The Hague, Wilders fans erupted in cheers, hugged and threw their arms in the air. In a victory speech, Wilders vowed to bring an end to a "tsunami of asylum and immigration."

Wilders' rode a wave of anti-immigration sentiment, blaming a housing shortage on flows of asylum seekers and drawing on widespread concerns about the cost of living and the overburdened healthcare system.

Wilders' views on Islam have prompted death threats and he has lived under heavy police protection for years.

Abroad, his anti-Islam comments led to sometimes violent protests in nations with large Muslim populations, including Pakistan, Indonesia and Egypt.

Islamic and Moroccan organisations expressed concerns about Wilders' victory. "The distress and fear are enormous," Habib el Kaddouri, who heads an organisation representing Dutch Moroccans, told Dutch news agency ANP. "We are afraid that he will portray us as second-class citizens."

The party of outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the conservative VVD, was in third place at 24 seats, the exit poll showed.

Wilders is expected to try to form a right-wing government with the VVD and the upstart party 'New Social Contract', who together would hold a 79-seat majority. (Reuters)

Anti-Islam populist Wilders 'tops poll' in Netherlands