Dutch Prime MinisterMark Rutte will begin initial talks to form a new government on Thursday, after a national election dominated by the coronavirus pandemic in which his conservative VVD party was projected to secure a fourth consecutive win.
With 63 per cent of Wednesday’s vote counted, Mr Rutte‘s party was on track to take 36 out of 150 seats in the lower house.
Mr Rutte said a new coalition with the left-leaning pro-European D-66 party, led by former UN diplomat Sigrid Kaag, which is projected to make the biggest gains and finish in second place with 24 seats, “would seem obvious”.
The result was an endorsement of Mr Rutte‘s handling of the pandemic, even though infection rates remain high and the rollout of vaccination has been slow. But with the unexpected strength of D-66, which did better than opinion polls had forecast, it was also an endorsement of the political centre.
“Dutch people are not extreme, they are moderate,” a beaming Ms Kaag said after the initial exit poll was broadcast on Wednesday, calling her run a “crazy adventure”.