The rise of Geert Wilders
Firstly, a significant number of voters in the Netherlands must have misled the pollsters. The polls suggested Geert Wilders' influence was on the wane. It is not uncommon for people not to admit to voting for a controversial party. Mr Wilders wants to ban face veils, shut down Islamic schools and to ban the building of mosques
Secondly, the question now is whether an anti-Islam party will join a coalition government. The Netherlands may be in for months of haggling and instability. The pro-business Liberal party, which gained the most seats, will be very reluctant to ask Mr Wilders party to join them. Internationally, there would be hostility to Mr Wilders being in government.
However, Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party can no longer be ignored. "We are very much here to govern," he said today. He now has a mandate from 1.5 million voters. His party came third with 24 seats. He saw his vote doubled.
What the vote underlines again is that parts of Europe are anxious about their identity. They believe that immigration has been too swift and, in particular, they resent new arrivals who do not integrate into society but live in separate, parallel communities. It is the same fear that has led to a ban on minarets in Switzerland and the moves to ban full-face veils.
The expectation is that the Netherlands will be back at the polls sooner rather than later. Coalition-building may prove all but impossible, but the country will have to find out why so many people voted for a party whose leader goes on trial in October on charges of inciting racial hatred against Muslims.