Surprise. That was the overwhelming feeling in the Netherlands after the results of the elections on Wednesday. Surprise at the margin of victory for the VVD, even among party insiders themselves. But also surprise at the shocking loss of the Labour party, which entered the election as a governing coalition party with 38 seats but ended the day with a historic low of nine.

“The traditional bond with party politics has disappeared over the last 20 years .That in combination with our electoral system and the huge amount of parties that participate, many voters waiver and choose to vote differently in the last few days before the election,” Kees Aarts, a professor of electoral behaviour at Groningen University, told The Independent. That worked out well for Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who showed off his statesmanship in a diplomatic spat with Turkey during the last few days before the vote.

The result left a parliament that is more fragmented than ever, with 13 parties gaining seats. Although the VVD came out on top, it did so with the smallest number of seats a winning party has ever held, bar one occasion. Back in 2010, when Mr Rutte was also in charge, the party won even fewer seats. “It could become a very difficult formation,” Mr Rutte admitted in an interview on Dutch radio.

A first attempt will almost certainly be centred on Mr Rutte’s VVD party and the Christian Democrats (CDA) and Liberal Democrats (D66), who each won 19 seats. However, that constellation leaves the party five seats short of a majority… see more

source: Independent UK