"Conservative Liberals win, Balkenende retires,” the Volkskrant recaps the Dutch 9 June general elections. Mark Rutte’s conservative free-market Liberals [VVD] actually won one seat more than Job Cohen’s Labour Party (PvdA), while incumbent prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende’s Christian Democrats (CDA) saw their seats nearly halved. So, comments another Dutch daily, Trouw, his departure after eight years in power is "personally tragic, but nonetheless unavoidable". The other noteworthy news from the polls is the breakthrough of Geert Wilders’ Islamophobic anti-immigration Freedom Party (PVV), which virtually tripled its parliamentary presence and outstripped the Christian Democrats: "Apparently a lot of voters who’d expressed their support for the VVD [conservative Liberals] in the opinion polls changed their minds at the ballot booth. As the big victor, the PVV [anti-immigration Freedom Party] have got to be taken seriously by the establishment parties – particularly seeing as Wilders wants to assume government responsibilities," gauges the Volkskrant. His aspirations are liable to be thwarted, however: the “most likely scenario”, posits the paper, is a “purple coalition” between Liberals, Labour, GroenLinks Greens and D66 left-leaning liberals.
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