Dutch establishment in blind ‘panic’ as Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom projected to become largest in the Netherlands

An election billboard for anti-islam lawmaker Geert Wilders is seen near the parliament building in The Hague, Netherlands, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. Dutch voters will go to the polls on Wednesday Nov. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
By Thomas Brooke
4 Min Read

Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom is set to become the largest party in the Dutch parliament according to the final poll published ahead of Wednesday’s election.

The last survey conducted by I&O Research released on Tuesday morning showed the populist conservatives had edged ahead of the establishment parties and suggested the PVV could win 28 seats in the House of Representatives.

The governing Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and the Labor-Green alliance of PvdA-GroenLinks spearheaded by former Eurocrat Frans Timmermans, were projected to amass 27 seats apiece.

The recently-formed New Social Contract (NSC) led by centrist Pieter Omtzigt was fourth in the poll with 21 seats.

“In the latest poll, we are the biggest party in the Netherlands,” Wilders posted on X alongside the results, urging the Dutch electorate to “make it the truth tomorrow” by voting for the PVV.

The poll is broadly consistent with the penultimate survey published over the weekend which showed a dramatic rise in support for the right-wing populists at the expense of Omtzigt’s NSC following a televised leadership debate that pollsters claimed was comprehensively won by Wilders.

His party has found it difficult to enjoy the same exposure on the mainstream media as other more established parties, as evidenced by recent watchdog data which showed no member of the PVV has been featured on one of the Netherlands’ most-watched late-night talk shows since the fall of the Dutch government in July, while the VVD had been invited on no fewer than 21 times and the PvdA-GL on 13 occasions.

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Despite the projections, there is the possibility of what PVV voters would call an establishment stitch-up which could see Wilders’ party receive the most votes but not find itself in power.

Timmermans’ Labor-Green alliance had already ruled out the possibility of serving in a coalition government with Wilders as prime minister, as had NSC.

The VVD, currently the largest party in the House of Representatives, had refrained from making such a pledge, that is until the publication of today’s poll, which resulted in VVD leader Dilan Yesilgöz-Zegerius telling NPO Radio 1 that her party was ruling out cooperation with the right-wing group should it seek to install Wilders as the leader of the government.

“I’m not going to do that. Prime Minister Wilders would not be good for this country. This country needs a leader who can connect,” Turkish-born Yesilgöz-Zegerius said.

Wilders accused her party of panicking and claimed the PVV was “becoming too big for them” and they are “now thrashing around wildly,” using the pledge as further evidence of the need for voters to turn out in support of his party on Wednesday.

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