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    Default Geert Wilders' anti-Islam Party Looses Dutch Elections

    Geert Wilders' anti-Islam Party Dealt Blow, PM Mark Rutte Wins Dutch Elections, Exit Polls Show

    Netherlands' ruling party projected to win with 31 seats; Geert Wilders' PVV tied with two other parties in second place; Wilders: 'Rutte hasn't seen the last of me.'

    Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's center-right party remains the biggest in parliament after an election on Wednesday with 31 of the 150 seats, two exit polls show, roundly beating the anti-Islam party of Geert Wilders.

    Geert Wilders' Party of Freedom was tied with two other parties - the center-right Christian Democratic Appeal and D66, a left-wing party - at 19 seats a piece in the 150-seat house of representatives.

    Prime Minister Rutte's VVD party won 31 seats, according to the poll based on interviews with voters.

    Wilder's PVV is projected to increase its parliamentary seats to 19 from the 15 won in 2012, reacted to the exit polls with a tweet saying, "PVV-voters thank you! We won seats! First win is in! And Rutte hasn't seen the last of me!!"

    The result is well down from his 2010 high of 24 seats while support for the two most pro-EU parties, the progressive D66 and GreenLeft, were way up. PvdA, the Labor Party, suffered the largest defeat, dropping from 38 seats to only 9.

    The turnout is forecast at 82 percent vs. 74.6 percent in the last election in 2012, according to the new TV channel NOS.

    If confirmed, the results will be a relief to mainstream parties across Europe, particularly in France and Germany, where right-wing nationalists are set to make a big impact in elections both will hold this year.

    "It appears that the VVD will be the biggest party in the Netherlands for the third time in a row," a beaming Rutte told supporters at a post-election party in the Hague. "It is also an evening in which the Netherlands after Brexit, after the American elections said stop to the wrong kind of populism."

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, tweeted: "The Netherlands, oh the Netherlands you are a champion!..... Congratulations on this great result."

    Rutte got a last-minute boost from a diplomatic row with Turkey, which allowed him to take a well-timed tough line on a majority Muslim country during an election campaign in which immigration and integration have been key issues.

    But while Rutte averted what in the early stages of the campaign looked like a possible victory for Wilders, years of austerity pushed down his share of the vote. His junior partner in the outgoing coalition, Labour, suffered its worst ever result, winning just nine seats, down from 38 last time.

    That means it may take weeks or months for Rutte to negotiate a ruling coalition.

    Dutch proportional representation means up to 15 parties could win a parliamentary seat and it could take months for Rutte to build a coalition.

    Rutte had called the vote a European quarter-final, before a French semi-final and German final, and warned voters that a Wilders victory would be "the wrong sort of populism winning the day."

    The far-right Marine Le Pen is set to make the second-round run-off of France's presidential election in May. In September's federal election in Germany, the right-wing, eurosceptic Alternative for Germany is likely to enter the national parliament for the first time.


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    The Dutch far right's election donors are almost exclusively American

    by Aamna Mohdin - March 10, 2017

    While Europe has been busy fretting about Russian meddling in its politics, a few Americans have been quietly doing their part to boost the continent's far right.

    Wealthy American conservatives have poured large sums into the electoral campaign of far-right leader Geert Wilders of the Netherlands' Dutch Freedom Party, in support of his anti-Islam, anti-EU views.

    Three American donors gave 141,668 ($150,430) to Dutch political parties between 2015 and 2017, according to campaign finance documents released this week by the Dutch interior ministry. Two of these donors funded the far-right Dutch Freedom Party.

    Americans rarely give money to Dutch political parties, and the sums wouldn't amount to much in a US election. But as Dutch parliamentary elections approach on March 15, there is concern about the impact of foreign donations in a system heavily reliant on public funding.

    The report showed that the PVV had three donors registered since 2015. The largest donor by far was the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a California-based think tank run by right-wing activist David Horowitz, who has called Wilders "the Paul Revere of Europe." The think tank's aim is to combat "the efforts of the radical left and its Islamist allies to destroy American values."

    The Center donated just over 108,244 in 2015, the largest individual contribution to a Dutch political party that year. The third donor, J.A. de Keizer, who gave a total 18,700 between 2015 to 2017, was based in Dordrecht.

    The foreign support may be waning. According to the latest campaign disclosure report, last year's contribution by Horowitz to Wilders' campaign dropped to 22,036. Wilders, who was convicted of hate speech last year, has recently slid in the polls. (Horowitz rallied behind Wilders when he was put on trial and acquitted for inciting hate against Muslims in 2010.)

    The PVV is currently projected to win 16% of the vote, or between 24 to 28 seats in the Dutch parliament, down from a prediction of around 20% in January, according to the Dutch Polling Indicator, which combines opinion polls into one estimate. Current prime minister Mark Rutte's conservative liberal VVD is leading in the polls.

    A record 81 parties registered to compete in the Dutch elections, of which 12 may get a spot.

    Wilders is running on a one-page manifesto to withdraw all residence permits already granted to asylum seekers, ban all asylum seekers and immigrants from Muslim countries, close all mosques, and leave the European Union. Keen to build on US president Donald Trump's recent electoral success, Wilders was one of the first European leaders to ape Trump's infamous slogan.

    The third US donor was Chris Rufer, who founded the Morning Star Packing company and serves as president of California Fruit and Tomato Kitchens company. Rufer gave over 4,535 to the small Dutch Libertarian Party, who has yet to win any seats in parliament.



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