THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch electoral commission published official results Friday from last week’s elections, confirming that Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s conservative party won the most seats in parliament’s lower house.
According to the finalized count, the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, or VVD, secured 34 of the legislature’s 150 seats. The centrist D66 party followed with 24 seats.
Those two parties are now leading talks to form the next government, a complex process likely to take months as they try to find more partners to build a majority coalition amid a fractured political landscape.
Rutte, 54, has led the last three Dutch governments and could become the country’s longest-serving prime minister if he leads the next coalition.
The election stretched over three days finishing March 17, to give voters in groups at high risk from COVID-19 a chance to cast their ballots in relative safety on the first two days.
Four new parties were among 17 that won seats in parliament, the largest number in decades. Among the newcomers were pro-European group Volt, a party representing farmers and rural areas and another party led by a Black woman seeking more action to tackle inequality in the Netherlands.
The coalition formation process suffered a delay Thursday when two officials nominated to map out possible alliances stepped down after one of them was photographed carrying clearly legible notes laying out talking points for the discussions.
Among the legible text in the notes was a line saying that left-leaning parties “aren’t really holding onto one another” and that there was “little enthusiasm” for a minority coalition.