Dutch PM’s party declared election winner

Incumbent Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s rightist liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) has been declared the winner of last week’s parliamentary polls, according to official results.

According to the results published by the Dutch Electoral Council on Friday, VVD won 34 of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives (lower house of Parliament) and became the biggest party in the country for the fourth time in a row, reports Xinhua news agency.

The centre-left liberal Democrats 66 (D66) party led by Sigrid Kaag finished second with 24 seats.

The seats won by the smaller parties are as follows: Party for the Animals, 6; Christian Union, 5; Volt, 3; JA21, 3; Reformed Political Party (SGP), 3; DENK, 3; 50PLUS, 1; BBB 1; and BIJ1, 1.

A post-World War II record of 17 parties will now enter Parliament.

The elections took place on March 15-17.

Turnout was 78.7 per cent, compared to 81.9 per cent in 2017, as 10,462,677 of the 13,293,081 eligible Dutch people cast their vote.

In 2017, Rutte’s VVD formed a government coalition with the centre-right CDA, the centre-left D66 and the centrist Christian Union.

The government stepped down on January 15 as a result of the so-called child benefits scandal, in which parents were wrongly accused of fraud.

Following the announcement of the preliminary election results, the two biggest parties (VVD and D66) started the coalition formation process.

On Thursday, this process suffered a major blow after one of the two so-called scouts tasked with investigating possible coalitions accidentally revealed explosive notes to the press.

In a joint statement, scouts Annemarie Jorritsma and Kajsa Ollongren declared that they quit because they could no longer do their work without prejudice.

Khadija Arib, speaker of the House of Representatives, later appointed Tamara van Ark (VVD) and Wouter Koolmees (D66) as new scouts.