World News

Wilders three seats ahead of rivals in Dutch poll

Dutch MP Geert Wilders speaks during a news conference in central London March 5, 2010. The Dutch MP was in London to show an anti-Islam film, local media reported. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

(Reuters) - The Freedom Party (PVV) of anti-immigrant leader Geert Wilders moved three seats ahead of its rivals in a new Dutch election poll on Sunday, as support for the Christian Democrats (CDA) of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende continued to slip.

The Maurice de Hond poll put the PVV on 27 seats in the June 9 national elections, while the CDA and the Labour Party (PvdA) were both on 24 seats. The poll also showed that none of the three most likely coalitions would be able to form a majority government without reaching across lines to a fourth or fifth party.

In local council polls on March 3, Wilders made substantial gains, positioning him to do well in the national election. Balkenende’s Christian Democrats were seen as the biggest loser in the council voting.

There has been heavy speculation since then in the Dutch press that the party might change course and name Transport Minister Camiel Eurlings to lead it into the election.

The current government collapsed February 20 after Labour pulled out of the CDA-led coalition in a dispute over the Dutch mission in Afghanistan.