Cabinet set to miss senate majority, support for anti-Islam party falls

The cabinet is set to fall one or two seats short of a majority in the senate, according to early results from the provincial elections.

Wednesday’s vote was seen as a referendum on the performance of the new government – a minority cabinet between the VVD and CDA, which is supported by the anti-Islam PVV on economic policy.
The indications are that the conservative liberal VVD will win 16 seats, the Christian Democrats 10 and the anti-Islam PVV 9, meaning they have failed to take the 38 seats necessary to control the upper house of parliament.
However, the balance of power may change over the next few days as parties form alliances to divide the remaining votes.
Voters on Wednesday went to the polls to elect members to the country’s 12 provincial councils. They, in turn, will elect a new senate at the end of May.
Compared with the June 2010 general election, support for the ruling coalition of CDA and VVD is stable, but support for the cabinet’s alliance partner PVV is down from 15% to around 11%. Television pundits said this because typical PVV voters are not motivated to vote in the provincial elections.
The traditional post-election debate between party leaders was cancelled after the VVD and CDA said they would not take part because it was still unclear what the effect of the vote would be on the make-up of the senate.
Without a majority, the cabinet will have to look for support from other parties to get controversial legislation approved. Planned cuts in spending on education are likely to stall.
Alexander Pechtold, leader of the liberal democrats D66, whose party was the biggest gainer in the provincial vote, apart from the PVV, said he was disappointed.
‘Voters want to know what this vote means,’ Pechtold said
Earlier, CDA leader Maxime Verhagen failed to congratulate the PVV in his first comments on the results. It is traditional in the Netherlands that party leaders congratulate all their opponents who do well in elections.
Labour leader Job Cohen said in his speech that the opposition was now in a position to make the cabinet amend its plans. ‘The bill for the crisis has to be spread in a fairer way,’ Cohen said.
Socialist senator Harry Bommel said he predicted there would be new elections for parliament before the end of the year.
Among the local results to be declared before midnight : The PVV emerged as the biggest party in Wilders´ home town of Venlo but was sixth in Amsterdam, where the PvdA and D66 dominated. will report on the individual provincial results and the latest news on the implications for the senate on Thursday morning.

For Nos television coverage, a running total of the number of votes counted and individual town and city results, click here

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