The Dutch government was shaken up in last week’s general election. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende’s Christian Democratic coalition was soundly defeated when it lost 20 of its 41 seats. The Liberal Party (VVD) is now the largest party, with 31 seats and only 20% of the vote, followed closely by the Labour Party. But most surprisingly of all, the Freedom Party, under the leadership of Geert Wilders, grew from 9 seats to 24, capturing 15.5% of the vote.
The Freedom Party is a right-of-centre party best known for its opposition to the Islamization of Holland. Canadians probably recognize Wilders’ name from emails that circulate the Internet warning about the advance of Islam in the west. Among other things, his party proposes to close Islamic schools and forbid the construction of new mosques. Holland, along with most of Europe, has seen a huge increase in the Muslim population. This comes from a low fertility rate among Europeans and a high fertility rate among the new Muslim immigrants. Given that Islam is a political religion that believes in imposing it’s values (including Shariah law) throughout the world, the increase in numbers has led to a clash of worldviews in Holland.
The Christian Democratic coalition included the Christian Union, which was formed in 2000 when the GPV (whose roots go back to the 1948’s Reformed church Liberation) merged with the Reformatory Political Federation. The Christian Union is known for being somewhat right-leaning on ethical issues but left-leaning on immigration and environmentalism.
A selection from www.nrc.nl, June 10, 2010: Geert Wilders’ PVV won the most in the election. Wilders, who is internationally known for his unequivocal criticism of Islam, went from 9 to 24 seats in parliament. While he ran a muted campaign and polls predicted he would barely double his seats, Wilders proved especially popular in the south-east of the country. His growing following there is part of the reason the Christian democratic party of incumbent prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende was halved at the polls. The CDA lost 20 of its 41 seats and will now be the fourth party in Dutch parliament. [Read the full article here.]