Sunday, June 7, 2009

Dutch hard-right party scores win in Europe elections

Thu Jun 4, 2009 3:21pm EDT

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Dutch voters, after rejecting a draft constitution for Europe four years ago, delivered a solid bloc for anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders to take to Europe's parliament, exit polls showed Thursday.

Underscoring skepticism over further European integration, Wilders' right-wing Freedom Party appeared set to win four out of 25 contested seats in elections for the European Parliament being held over the next four days.

Wilders, who says the Koran incites violence, said he would stop Turkey's bid to join the bloc, an issue that causes deep fissures among the 27 European Union member states.

"Should Turkey as an Islamic country be able to join the European Union? We are the only party in Holland that says, it is an Islamic country, so no, not in 10 years, not in a million years," Wilders said Thursday as polls opened.

According to exit polls by Dutch news agency ANP and broadcaster NOS, the Freedom Party gained four seats from none in 2005, while the three major Dutch parties all lost seats.

Despite its long history of tolerance, the Dutch have turned inward in recent years on concerns over Muslim immigration, the growing level of influence in liberal Dutch laws from Brussels and taxpayer money being contributed to the EU budget.

(Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block and Reed Stevenson)


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