Analysts: Geert Wilders Force to be Reckoned With After Dutch Elections

Geert Wilders
THE HAGUE (AFP) – Geert Wilders may have been beaten into second place in the Dutch elections but the far-right MP will enjoy a magnified role in parliament and remain a force to be reckoned with, analysts said. While he failed in his aim of starting a “patriotic revolution,” Wilders has already succeeded in shifting the debate and the tone in Dutch politics on immigration and integration, observers said. Campaigning on an anti-Islam ticket, the peroxide-haired politician saw his hopes wilt from an all-time high in January when opinion polls had said he could win as many as 37 seats in the 150-seat Dutch lower chamber. Instead, he captured a more sobering 20 seats in Wednesday’s general elections, behind the 33 won by the Liberal party of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, but enough to place his Freedom Party (PVV) second. “It would have been great if we were the largest, but we’re willing to talk and help govern. That’s my hope,” Wilders told journalists Thursday. But he warned his party would “show our hard opposition side” if he were excluded. The long process to form the next government has begun with the VVD sounding out other parties to try to cobble together

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