Geert Wilders’ far-Right anti-immigration party made significant gains in the European Parliament elections in the Netherlands on Thursday, according to exit polls.
The European Parliament elections had been widely expected to punish governments struggling to cope with the global economic crisis, and polls released by the ANP news agency and broadcaster NOS put the Right-wing Freedom Party on course to win four of the 25 Dutch seats in the parliament, after having none in the previous assembly. This put Mr Wilders’ party second only to the ruling Christian Democrats, which got nearly 20 per cent of votes, according to the poll.
Mr Wilders, who was banned from Britain by the Home Office because of his controversial views on Islam, won support from Protestant and Catholic voters disenchanted with what has been perceived as the growing influence of the nation’s 800,000 Muslims, many of them immigrants from Morocco and Turkey.
Mr Wilders, whose party was contesting European elections for the first time, campaigned on an anti-EU platform and criticised Turkey’s bid to join the EU. “Should Turkey as an Islamic country be able to join the European Union? We are the only party in Holland that says, it is an Islamic country, so no, not in 10 years, not in a million years,” he said.