The Netherlands is on the verge of a political earthquake as the far-right Anti-Islamic populist leader Geert Wilders, dubbed the “Dutch Donald Trump”, has taken the lead in the exit polls for the parliamentary elections.
Wilders, the leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV), has campaigned on a platform of anti-Islam, anti-immigration and anti-EU policies, promising to ban the Quran, close mosques, and hold a referendum on the Netherlands’ membership in the EU.
According to the latest exit polls, the PVV is projected to win 28 seats out of 150 in the lower house of parliament, followed by the ruling Liberal Party (VVD) of Prime Minister Mark Rutte with 24 seats. The Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) and the Democrats 66 (D66) are tied for third place with 19 seats each.
The results, if confirmed, would mark a stunning victory for Wilders, who has been convicted of inciting discrimination against Moroccans and has faced death threats for his controversial views. Wilders has also received support from other populist leaders, such as former US President Donald Trump and French National Front leader Marine Le Pen.
However, Wilders may still face difficulties in forming a government, as most of the other parties have ruled out joining a coalition with him. Rutte has repeatedly said that he would not work with Wilders, calling him a “danger to democracy”. Wilders has accused Rutte of being a “traitor” who has “betrayed” the Dutch people by allowing mass immigration and surrendering sovereignty to the EU.
The election has been seen as a test of the populist wave that has swept across Europe and the US in recent years, amid rising discontent with the political establishment and the effects of globalization, migration, and terrorism. The Netherlands is the first of several European countries to hold elections this year, followed by France, Germany, and possibly Italy.
The final results of the election are expected to be announced on Friday.