By 01.15 hours and with 60% of the votes counted, the right-wing VVD is set to emerge as the biggest party in the Dutch general election with Labour a very close second.
The VVD is on target to win 41 or 40 seats in the 150-seat parliament and Labour 39, opening the way for a two-party coalition.
The Socialist Party saw its gains early in the campaign disappear and is now expected to win 15 seats, unchanged from its current total.
The big shock of the evening was the large drop in support for Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration PVV as voters shifted away from his populist policies. The PVV, which campaigned on an anti-Europe ticket, is on target to win 15 seats – down from the 24 they currently hold.
Television pundits said the shift away from the SP and PVV showed that voters want a return to the centre and an end to fringe politics.
Behind-the-scenes talks on forming a new coalition are likely to begin as soon as the dust has settled on Thursday.
Although the VVD and PvdA control a majority of seats in the 150-seat parliament it will not be easy for them to work together and many insiders say a third party will be necessary to oil the wheels if a left-right alliance is to be a real option.
‘Voters are very divided in their approach,’ Nos pundit Ferry Mingelen said. ‘Both the VVD and PvdA feel like winners and it will be a very difficult negotiation process.’
Source: Dutch News, Wednesday 12 September 2012