Far right party set to take four seats


THE NETHERLANDS:THE RULING Christian Democratic Appeal party in the Netherlands is on course to win the biggest share of the vote in the European elections.

Exit polls released last night suggested prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende’s party would win more seats than the far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) led by controversial politician Geert Wilders.

But the PVV looks set to claim four of the 25 Dutch seats in the European Parliament, a significant success given that the party was only formed in 2005.

According to exit polls by news agency ANP and broadcaster NOS, the PVV will gain four seats, while the three major Dutch parties, including the Christian Democratic Appeal, will all lose seats.

The forecast would make the PVV the second-largest Dutch party in the European parliament. The PVV campaigned on a tough anti-immigration platform with Mr Wilders accusing the Islamic faith of encouraging terrorism, and calling for the Koran to be banned. “We want to decide who will enter Holland, not bureaucrats in Brussels,” said Mr Wilders as he cast his vote in the Hague.

In Britain, where voting in the elections also took place yesterday, fringe parties were also predicted to make gains and take seats from the Conservative and Labour parties in the wake of the furore over MPs expenses. The Predict 09 website, a collaboration between Trinity College Dublin and the London School of Economics, forecast the Greens could win six seats, an increase of four on their 2004 result. The far-right British National Party was also contesting for a first seat.

Over the next three days, 375 million voters in all 27 EU member states will get the opportunity to vote in the elections. There are fears turnout could slip below 45 per cent for the first time.