In the Netherlands, the liberal party of outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte won the legislative elections dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic on Wednesday according to exit polls. If confirmed, these results should allow him to lead his fourth government coalition. These polls credited the Liberals with 35 seats out of 150 in the lower house of parliament, against 33 in the outgoing assembly, and attributed 27 seats to D66 (center left) and 17 to the PVV Freedom Party of anti-Islam deputy Geert. Wilders, with whom the main parties have already ruled out forming a coalition.
These legislative measures had been adapted because of the Covid-19, in particular by taking place over three days, and they were considered as a test of the management of the epidemic by the current government. The ballot boxes were in unusual places such as the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, hotels, train stations, churches and testing centers all over the Netherlands, where you could sometimes vote by bike or car. .
A “different” campaign
“The campaign is different from what it was compared to the other elections and it is really focused on what is happening now,” Twan Compen, 37, told AFP. Whatever happens, the Prime Minister, in power since 2010, remains “a little untouchable”, noted another voter, Erik Spruijt, 35, after a campaign “less intense than in previous years”.
Mr. Rutte had said himself “cautiously” optimistic before going to vote in a school in The Hague. His People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) led the polls by a wide margin. “I am proud of what we have achieved over the past 10 years in the Netherlands,” one of the best performing economies in Europe, Mr Rutte told reporters before voting. “The main question in these elections is who can best lead this country through the coronavirus crisis,” he added.
A record 37 parties contested for 150 seats in the lower house of parliament, in a fragmented political landscape that forces complex coalitions. Mr. Rutte ruled out any coalition with Geert Wilders “because of what he said about Islam and the Koran”. One of the parties in the current coalition, the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) of Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra, would again be a “natural partner” for the Prime Minister.
The anti-Islam MP insisted that his party be invited to the negotiating table during the formation of a government coalition after the election. Nicknamed the Prime Minister “Teflon” for his ability to emerge unscathed from political crises, Mark Rutte was nevertheless forced to resign in January after thousands of parents were wrongly accused of fraud in family allowances. His government, however, remained in place to take care of the day-to-day business.