Dutch voters punish leaders over Iraq war
Anti-war voters punish Dutch leaders
By Stephen Castle in Brussels
12 June 2004
The Dutch government yesterday discovered the electoral price of its
support for the US-led occupation of Iraq, losing seats in European
elections which also brought gains for Eurosceptics campaigning to
"clean up" Brussels.
Preliminary results released after Thursday's poll showed voters anxious
punish the government and register a strong protest vote. However,
turnout was higher than in either of the last two contests - up 9 per
cent on 1999 results.
The Dutch authorities have courted legal action by allowing preliminary
results to be released as soon as they were available, rather than
waiting for all 25 EU countries to finish polling on Sunday night.
The deployment of nearly 1,400 Dutch troops to Iraq was a dominant
campaign issue in the Netherlands. With most of the votes counted, the
ruling Christian Democratic Appeal party of the Prime Minister, Jan
Peter Balkenende, had lost two of its nine seats. The main opposition
Social Democrats won an extra seat, putting them on an equal footing
with the Christian Democrats. The anti-war socialists took two seats.
The Liberal VVD lost two seats, and voters also registered a protest
vote against the EU, giving two seats to a new party called Transparent
The group is led by Paul van Buitenen, a former EU official and
whose claims of mismanagement helped to bring about the resignation of
the entire European Commission in 1999.
But the elections also underlined the disappearance of the party founded
by the murdered anti-immigration campaigner Pim Fortuyn, which won only
2.5 per cent of the vote.
12 June 2004 09:18
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