Page last updated at 08:55 GMT, Thursday, 4 March 2010

Dutch anti-Islamists makes key gains in local elections

Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders (file picture 3 February 2010)
The far right may pose a serious challenge in June parliamentary polls

Preliminary results in Dutch local polls suggest an anti-Islam party has made major gains and may pose a serious challenge in June parliamentary polls.

The Freedom Party (or PVV), led by Geert Wilders, is opposed to what it calls the country's "Islamisation".

General elections have been called following the collapse of the Dutch government in a dispute over the deployment of troops in Afghanistan.

Last year, the PVV came second in the country's polls to the EU parliament.

'Springboard' situation

The PVV fielded candidates in municipal elections in two cities: Almere, a city of some 200,000 inhabitants east of the capital Amsterdam, where its looks set to be the biggest party, and The Hague, where it was in second place.

The fact that he has been charged with fomenting hatred and discrimination has, if anything, only served to increase his popularity
John Tyler
Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Preliminary results show that in Almere, it has won 21% of the vote, while in The Hague, it has won eight seats, behind the Dutch Labour Party which had 10 seats.

"What is possible in The Hague and Almere is possible all over the country. It's a springboard for our victory," Mr Wilders told supporters in Almere.

Last year, the PVV came second in European elections in the Netherlands, winning 15% of the vote.

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The Independent Extreme right on the march in tolerant Netherlands - 2 hrs ago
Reuters Africa Dutch anti-Islam leader Wilders is major winner in polls - 21 hrs ago
AFP via Yahoo! Far-right celebrates breakthrough in Dutch polls - 22 hrs ago
France24 Dutch far-right leader Wilders in poll breakthrough - 23 hrs ago
Radio Free Europe Anti-Islam Leader Does Well In Dutch Vote - 25 hrs ago

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