By Bruno Waterfield, The Telegraph
The far-Right Dutch politician’s controversial PVV party came third, behind Labour and the victorious Liberals.
PVV increased its number of MPs from nine to 24 after campaigning against immigration, for a tax on Muslim headscarves, a ban on the Koran and against the building of new mosques.
“We would love to govern,” Mr Wilders said. “1.5 million people voted for us and our plans for more safety, less immigration and less Islam. We are the big winner and they cannot ignore us. We want to be taken seriously.”
Mark Rutte, the leader of the centre-right Liberal VVD and the man expected to be the next Dutch prime minister, hailed his party’s unprecedented victory. “It appears as if for the first time in our history that the VVD has become the largest party in the Netherlands,” he said.
Mr Rutte’s VVD is now expected to form a Right-wing coalition government with Mr Wilders and the Christian Democrat CDA, after that party lost 20 seats to fall from first to fourth place in Dutch politics.
The support of the Freedom Party’s 24 MPs is vital if the Liberals, with 31 seats, are to combine with the CDA, with 21, to gain a majority of 76 in the 150-seat Dutch parliament.
Neither the Liberals nor the Christian Democrats have ruled out forming a government with Mr Wilders, who was last year banned from entering Britain for public safety reasons. The Home Office refused the politician entry on that grounds that he “would threaten community security and therefore public security”. Mr Wilders had been invited to the House of Lords to show his 17-minute film, Fitna, which criticises the Koran as a “fascist book” and compares Islam to Nazism.
Signalling that talks on forming a coalition government had already begun, Mr Wilders on Thursday dropped his opposition to Liberal plans to raise the Dutch retirement age to 67 from 65.
“It is a very important point but not a reason to wreck a cabinet,” he said. “[A potential coalition] is really good news. We want to work together and make compromises.”
Many Dutch Muslims have been alarmed at the election result. In October, around the time coalition talks are expected to conclude, Mr Wilders goes faces a trial on charges of inciting racial hatred against Muslims.
“I think everyone is afraid, afraid that the PVV will end up in government,” said a Muslim woman, too scared to give her full name, in the Gouda immigrant suburb of Oosterwei.
Jan Peter Balkenende, the former Dutch prime minister, has resigned as Christian Democrat leader after a catastrophic result for his party in elections dominated by the economic crisis and debates over non-Western immigration.