Dutch far-right 'suffers EU vote setback'

Far-Right Eurosceptic Geert Wilders in surprise fourth place in European Parliament vote, exit poll shows.

    Dutch far-right 'suffers EU vote setback'
    The election was expected to produce a surge in support for Eurosceptic parties [Reuters]

    The far-right, anti-Islam Freedom Party of Eurosceptic politician Geert Wilders came fourth in exit polls from voters in the Dutch elections for the European Parliament, public television reported after polls closed.

    Thursday's result, if confirmed by final results on Sunday, would be a major upset for Wilders, who had been leading opinion polls for months.

    Wilders' PVV party will have 12.7 percent, trailing three pro-European parties, the Christian Democrats, Democrats 66 and the centre-right VVD according to the exit poll results, which also said that the turnout was 37 percent.

    The exit poll was based on interviews with 40,000 voters conducted by pollster IPSOS for Dutch public television.

    Wilders, who dominated the campaign with his widely condemned call for a Netherlands with "fewer Moroccans", has said he will seek to forge alliances with other far-right parties in the Brussels assembly, including France's Front National.

    The Netherlands and Britain kicked off four days of voting across the European Union on Thursday.

    'Extremist xenophobes' 

    On the last day of campaigning, Jean-Claude Juncker, the top candidate for Europe's centre-right political group, urged people to vote, but not to throw their votes away.

    "Do not give your votes to extremist xenophobes or fascists," he said at a rally in Brussels.

    "If you want Europe to function and to serve its citizens, we should vote for people who will work hard in the next European Parliament."

    Despite dwindling turnout, Europe's mainstream political groups - the centre-right European People's Party, the centre-left Socialists & Democrats, the liberal ALDE alliance and the Greens - are together expected to secure 70 percent of the vote, leaving them as a driving force in Europe as long as they work together.

    While the European Parliament has in the past been derided as a toothless talking shop, it has gained relevance since the passage of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009 and now enjoys "co-decision" powers with member states over most legislation.

    SOURCE: Reuters


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Take a tour through East and West Jerusalem to see the difference in quality of life for Israelis and Palestinians.

    Stories from the sex trade

    Stories from the sex trade

    Dutch sex workers, pimps and johns share their stories.

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    As the stigma associated with being childless persists, some elderly women in India risk it all to become mothers.