The anti-Islam party of far-right politician Geert Wilders has made major gains in local elections held in the Netherlands. The party took part in two cities and has become the largest party in Almere and the second largest in The Hague. The Freedom Party has taken around 20 percent of the vote in these cities. Geert Wilders told Dutch TV that it was fantastic day for his party.
"This is a springboard for the vote on June 9," said Wilders referring to the forthcoming national elections. An opinion poll held at the same time as the local vote showed that Wilders' Freedom Party had the most support in the Netherlands and would be the biggest party nationally should a general election be held now, another poll put them as the third biggest party just a few seats behind the main established political parties.
Votes were cast in almost four hundred districts altogether. Turnout was 56 percent, which meant that some 7 million people voted. The Christian Democrat CDA from caretaker prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende and the Labour Party of Wouter Bos were the biggest losers. The coalition government combining these two parties, plus the much smaller Christian Union, collapsed just two weeks ago over the question of extending the Dutch military mission in Afghanistan - it seems voters have lost much of their faith in these parties following the break.
Other parties who did well in the local elections were the centre-right D66 and the left-wing Green Left party, notably both parties have been vocal in their opposition to Geert Wilders Freedom Party.
The BNP will now move forward if this is any indication. - S