Pro-Business Party Claims Win In Dutch Elections
DEBORAH AMOS, Host:
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Deborah Amos.
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
ROB GIFFORD: Hi, Steve.
INSKEEP: We say they want to stop all Muslim immigration into the country. How does that fit into their larger platform here?
GIFFORD: So he's very, very controversial, and especially in the Dutch political scene. The Netherlands are a very, very moderate, liberal country, only 16 million people, about 10 million voters. But about one million of those people are now Muslim immigrants. And it's because of that that people have swung to the right and many of them have said enough to Muslim immigration.
INSKEEP: I do wonder, because you say the type of country that it is, Rob, if this is a protest vote or a vote where people actually expect these proposals and policies to become law.
GIFFORD: And so I think a lot of people, at the last minute, shifted away from Wilders because they were slightly scared that he was a little bit too extreme and it was a little but much for their moderate, liberal Dutch sensibility.
INSKEEP: Nevertheless, he did gain seats. And you're saying that he gained influence over the course of the election and influenced other parties. How much power will he have in the new parliament?
GIFFORD: The key thing is what this middle guy, Mr. Rutte - will he ally with the left or will he ally with Geert Wilders? And that is what's going to shape the coalition government and shape whether Dutch politics veers very much to the right in the years to come.
INSKEEP: Now, Rob, I'd like to know if the concern about Muslim immigrants that is reflected in these election results is widespread all across Europe right now.
GIFFORD: But we have seen a lot of the right-wing parties - the Conservative Party in Britain got tougher on immigration, because that's what the voters want. Of course, the economy is crucial, as well, and was very, very influential in this vote, as well. But socially, Muslim immigration really, really is at the top of the list of concerns.
INSKEEP: Rob, thanks very much.
GIFFORD: Thank you, Steve.
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