Dutch Far Right Snubs EU, Refuses To Take Seat

Dutch far right MP snubs EU, refuses to take seat

Thursday, June 11, 2009; 10:49 AM

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Dutch anti-immigrant politician Geert Wilders won enough preference votes for a seat in the European Parliament, but has refused to take up the position, his party said Thursday.

Wilders, leader of the Freedom Party (PVV), had campaigned on an anti-European Union platform and had said before last week's election he would not take up a seat in the parliament in protest against an institution he said needed change.

He says he objects to EU influence in Dutch matters, arguing the Netherlands should keep a veto right over issues such as immigration laws. He is also against Dutch taxpayer money being paid to the union and Turkey's entry into the bloc.

The Dutch Electoral Council said Wilders had won almost 335,000 preference votes, guaranteeing him a seat. Wilders had not been expected to win a seat because he was listed at number 10 on his party's candidate list.

Barry Madlener, who topped the PVV's candidate list, confirmed Wilders would not take up his seat. “We would miss him here too much,” he told news agency ANP.

In the Netherlands, voters can vote for any candidate despite a low ranking on a party's list. A candidate can win a seat with enough preference votes or based on the party's total number of votes.

The PVV won four seats out of 25 available, making the PVV the second-largest Dutch party represented in the European legislature. EU leaders had said they hoped far-right parties would not make gains.

The Dutch electoral council also said Thursday the Netherlands would gain an extra seat in the parliament if the Treaty of Lisbon comes into force. Under current plans, the PVV would most probably be awarded the 26th seat, lifting its tally to five, the council said.

(Reporting by Gilbert Kreijger; editing by Elizabeth Piper)