The right-wing Liberals VVD emerged as the big winner in Wednesday’s local elections in the Limburg town of Venlo with 29% of the vote.
All eyes had been on Venlo because it is the home town of Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-Islam party PVV which did not take part in the election.
‘With hard work and telling our own story, you see that the VVD can become the biggest party,’ said local campaign leader Mark Verheijen in the Volkskrant. ‘We’ve done something very special here.’
Labour, which had been the biggest party in the town, saw its vote almost halved and now has 11% support. The Christian Democrat vote was almost unchanged at 19%.
The newly-formed Dutch Muslim party NMP took just 0.5% of the vote and failed to win any seats.
Venlo was one of six local authority areas where elections took place early because of boundary changes. Turnout everywhere was about 10% below the last election, and below 50% in some areas.
Rita Verdonk’s populist movement Ton took 6.3% of the vote in the new eastern local authority area of Zuidplas and will have two seats on the local council. ‘We’re in,’ a jubilant Verdonk said after the vote was counted. Support for the former minister and VVD MP has collapsed this year.
The VVD and orthodox Christians both won six seats in Zuidplas, making them the biggest parties on the council.
Labour, which saw its support crumble in the June European elections, is the biggest party in Oldambt in Groningen. The new council area was formed out of three traditional Labour strongholds.
The rest of the Netherlands will go to the polls to choose new local councils in March 2010.
For a map of the locations involved in yesterday’s vote, click here
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