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General elections were held in the Netherlands on Wednesday, 9 June 2010. It was triggered by the fall of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's fourth cabinet on 20 February with Queen Beatrix accepting the resignation of the Labour Party ministers on 23 February. The conservative-liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), led by Mark Rutte, won the largest number of seats in the House of Representatives while the social-democratic Labour Party (PvdA), led by Job Cohen, came a narrow second. It was also noted for the rise of the controversial politician Geert Wilders and the Party for Freedom (PVV), which came in third. On the other hand, the election was a poor result for Balkenende and his Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), which lost half its seats and dropped from first to fourth place. The Socialist Party (SP) also lost seats. Notably, the 31 seats won by the VVD is the fewest in years, and the one-seat margin between the VVD and PvdA is the closest on record.
After the election, it took 127 days to form a new government, with both the VVD and PvdA hoping to have a leading role. Talks with the PvdA and other left-wing parties (trying to form a so-called Purple Coalition without Christian parties) broke down and Rutte was able to form a right-wing coalition of the VVD and CDA, with the PVV formally making an agreement (gedoogakkoord) to support the government but without holding any cabinet seats. It was the first coalition government not to be led by a Christian democratic or socialist party in 92 years, as well as the first to be led by the VVD. Rutte was sworn in as Prime Minister on 14 October, becoming the first liberal to hold that post since 1918.
The 150 seats of the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal) were contested, and were filled using party-list proportional representation for a nominal four-year term.
Dutch general election, 2010 Wikipedia
The election follows the PvdA's withdrawal in February from the coalition over the contribution of Dutch soldiers to the War in Afghanistan. According to the Dutch constitution new elections had to be held within 83 days.
The first radio debate was held on 21 May 2010. The first television debate, held on 23 May was, according to instant polls, won by Mark Rutte on 36%, with Job Cohen second on 24%, and Geert Wilders and Jan Peter Balkenende third, on 18%.
Polls indicated that the elections were too close to call.
Turnout was reported to be over 5% less than the previous elections due to heavy rain and stormy weather.National summary
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende stepped down from his position in the CDA and resigned his parliamentary seat on the evening of the election, saying he was taking "political responsibility" for the unsatisfactory election results of his party and that "The voter has spoken, the outcome is clear."
Expectations were that the formation of a new government would take some time. The international media also read this as a slim victory for the "austerity-minded" Liberals amidst the 2010 European sovereign debt crisis.
On 14 October, Mark Rutte was sworn in as prime minister. Rutte's government resigned on 24 April 2012 over austerity measures.
Some international media speculated that "for the first time in this nation's history, a Jewish man, albeit a secular one, is on the verge of becoming the next prime minister ... Job Cohen, who was until recently the Mayor of Amsterdam, and represents the top of the ticket for the PvdA ... is at the end of a long battle to run the country that began in February when the PvdA backed out of the ruling coalition government because it did not want to send Dutch troops back to Afghanistan."