CDA tops poll but next coalition is a puzzle

As forecast, the Christian Democrats emerged as the biggest party in Wednesday’s general election with 41 seats. But the real winner in terms of votes was the Socialist Party. After 97% of the votes had been counted, the SP had increased its seats from nine to 26 in the 150-seat lower house of parliament, taking votes from its left-wing allies Labour (PvdA) and GroenLinks.

Both Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration PVV and pro-animal Partij van de Dieren looked set to enter parliament for the first time, with nine and two seats respectively.
The free-market Liberal party (VVD) saw its vote crumble from 28 to 22, its lowest result since World War Two. A NOS poll said that the party would have taken 28 rather than 21 seats if its hardline integration minister Rita Verdonk had been chosen as party leader rather than Mark Rutte.
Labour also did badly. Despite holding on to second place, it lost 10 seats and finished on 32 seats.
The results mean it will be difficult to form a distinctive right or left-wing coalition. The current Christian Democrat/Liberal coalition has failed to take a majority of the 150 parliamentary seats.
The same applies to a left-wing government made up of Labour the Socialist Party and GroenLinks.
‘The results are complicated,’ CDA prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende said. He admitted it would not be easy to translate the results into a workable cabinet. ‘We haven’t ruled out any party [as a coalition partner], not even the Socialists,’ the CDA’s leader in parliament, Maxime Verhagen, said.
A coalition made up of the CDA and VVD would be the most desirable new government, according to an NOS poll. A left-leaning PvdA/SP/GroenLinks coalition was second favourite.
The results, after 97% of the votes had been counted:
CDA 41 (44)
PvdA 32 (42)
VVD 22 (28)
SP 26 (9)
GroenLinks 7 (8)
ChristenUnie 6 (3)
Partij van de Dieren 2
D66 3 (6)

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