And Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam PVV became the biggest party in Almere and number two in the Hague, the only two cities where it took part.
The ruling Christian Democrats and the Labour party lost seats, although Labour’s losses were not as heavy as forecast earlier. The party appears to have benefitted from its decision to pull out of the national government over Afghanistan.
Wilders said in a speech to supporters that the national election campaign has begun. ‘What has happened in Almere and the Hague can happen all over the country,’ he said.
‘We are going to conquer the entire country… we are going to be the biggest party in the country after the June 9 vote.’
However, an Nos opinion poll earlier in the day put the PVV in third place in the national vote. And the party’s results in Almere were well below forecasts and down on its share of the vote at the European elections last June.
The poll gives the Christian Democrats 29 seats, down 12 on their total seats at the 2006 general election. The poor showing will add to the pressure on party leader and prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende who is heading up the national campaign.
Labour, which pulled out of the cabinet two weeks ago, would be in second place on 27 seats, down six on their 2006 total. The PVV would take 24 seats, up from nine at present.
The Labour party was the biggest loser in the local elections overall, shedding 639 seats but pundits said this was to be expected given the party’s massive support in 2006.
Back from dead
Labour leader Wouter Bos said the results showed ‘the PvdA is back’ from its very poor showing in the polls a few weeks ago. ‘We had been declared dead and buried’, he said.
Another big loser is the Socialist party, which would retain just 11 of its 24 seats in parliament if the local results are followed in June.
Rita Verdonk and her Trots op Nederland (TON) movement would disappear from parliament, but took a handful of seats in the local vote, and is the second biggest party in the navy city of Den Helder.