Poll: Socialists now biggest Dutch party

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For the first time ever, the Dutch Socialist Party has emerged as the biggest party in a national weekly opinion poll. At the same time, support for Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party continues to dwindle. And Labour and the Christian Democrats - once the biggest parties - see their combined number of seats plummet to a mere 29.

The Socialist Party would now get 32 seats in parliament, according to a weekly survey conducted by Maurice de Hond. That is two more than last week and 17 more than the party’s actual number of MPs. The party led by Emile Roemer has been soaring in the polls since mid-December, picking up an additional seven seats.

Over the same period, Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam Freedom Party has lost seven seats. If elections were held now, the poll suggests, the party would win just 20 seats, its lowest figure since the government was installed in October 2010. The Freedom Party, which currently has 24 MPs, supports the conservative minority coalition in parliament on an agreed package of measures. But it is at loggerheads with the coalition of conservative VVD party and the Christian Democrats on a number of other issues, including the euro crisis and pension reform.

The Christian Democrats, the coalition’s junior party, would now win a mere 12 seats, nine less than they have in parliament. On Saturday, the party outlined a new long-term programme designed to redress the crushing defeat it suffered at the last general election nearly two years ago.

Labour would plummet to a mere 17 seats, 13 less than it now has. On Saturday, Labour leader Job Cohen said the party would stop supporting the cabinet on any matter except pensions and the eurozone crisis, even when the government fails to get support from Mr Wilders’ Freedom Party.

The coalition’s senior party, the VVD, would get 30 seats compared with the 31 it now has. Democrats D66, led by Alexander Pechtold, would jump from 10 seats to 16.

(cl/imm)

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