ROTTERDAM, Netherlands

The conservative People’s Party of Freedom and Democracy, or VVD, led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte, claimed the fourth term election victory, winning 35 seats in the parliament according to exit polls on Thursday.

Democrats 66 (D66) from coalition partners led by female politician Sigrid Kaag came in second with 24 seats in parliament. D66 won 19 seats in 2017 general elections.

Anti-Islam and far-right Freedom Party (PVV) of Geert Wilders came third party in the elections.

The turn-out slightly increased in the elections, 82.6% of the eligible voters cast their votes. The number was 81% back in 2017.

For the first time since 1918, 17 parties grabbed seats in the parliament, while 4 of them obtained the right to be represented for the first time – the far right JA21, pro farmers party BBB, pro-European party Volt and left-wing BIJ1.

Rutte: We still have a lot more to do

Speaking on the election victory, Rutte said that it is a big responsibility for the public to trust and vote for the VVD for the fourth time, adding they will have to continue to lead the Netherlands in the COVID-19 crisis.

“It was a nice evening, but we have a lot more to do,” he added.

D66 leader Kaag also said the Netherlands is ready for the optimism and vision of her party.

Kaag said that the Netherlands does not want to wait any longer to tackle the “climate disaster” in a “more progressive, fairer and greener way.”

“We want to work together to achieve this. We take the trust placed in us very seriously and we are ready for it,” she added.

Wilders: We will continue to be the biggest opposition

Wilders’ PVV, which won 20 seats in 2017 elections, lost three seats in 2021 elections.

“We would have preferred more, but this is still a great result. I think there is no place for us in the coalition. However, we will continue to be the biggest opposition. I have a lot of energy for this and I am looking forward to it,” Wilders said.

The PVV and its leader Wilders have been at the centre of Islamophobic and anti-Muslim movement in the country, receiving international reaction.

The Forum Party for Democracy (FvD), led by another far-right Thierry Baudet, increased the number of seats from two to eight, while the JA21 Party, founded by politicians that left FvD, won four seats for the first time.

Accordingly, the total number of far-right seats in the Parliament increased from 22 to 29.

Coalition partner Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), on the other hand, won 15 seats, four seats less than 2017 elections.

Another coalition partner Christian Union (CU) won five seats, same as the previous elections.

DENK wins 2 seats

The Denk Party, which had three seats in parliament since 2017, competed with 21 candidates, most of whom are Turkish origin, won two seats in the elections.

The NIDA Party, which participated in the elections for the first time and has introduced itself as “the party inspired by Islam”, could not win any seat in the parliament.

Coalition government on the way

In order to form a government, a political party must win 76 seats in the 150-seat lower house of parliament. However, the Netherlands has been run by coalition governments for more than a century as no single party gains majority vote.

The coalition talks will begin after the official results are announced on March 22.

It is considered certain that Rutte-led VVD will want to re-establish a government with D66 and CDA. The party has already ruled out any coalition partnership with Wilders’ party.

*Writing and contribution by Busra Nur Cakmak in Ankara

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