VVD party claims Dutch election win, coalition-wrangle ahead

AMSTERDAM — The liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) claimed victory in the Dutch elections early Thursday, as voters in the Netherlands continued a Europe-wide shift to the political right and rewarded parties that pledged to cut government spending and discourage immigration.
"It appears as if for the first time in our history the VVD has become the largest party in the Netherlands," would-be prime minister Mark Rutte told chanting supporters in the seaside town of Scheveningen.
With 96.5 percent of votes counted, Rutte's pro-business party led left-leaning Labor by 31 seats to 30 in the 150-seat parliament, a result that could spell weeks and possibly months of haggling between the two to fashion a ruling coalition.
Voters also gave a major boost to the anti-Islam Freedom Party of Geert Wilders, which scored its best-ever finish with 24 seats.
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