In politics, things can turn on a euro cent. Just six month ago Wouter Bos was celebrated for the way he dealt with the financial crisis. The Dutch Labour party leader and finance minister soared in the opinion polls. But all that was forgotten when people went to vote on Thursday, and dealt Bos' party a devastating blow: Labour lost four of its seven seats in the European parliament.

The Christian democrats, the other major coalition partner, also took a severe beating: it went from seven to five seats. That didn't keep prime minister and party leader Jan Peter Balkenende from claiming victory: "We said we wanted to remain the biggest party and that's what happened," Balkenende said, adding nevertheless that his coalition government will have to work hard to regain the public's confidence.

The big winner of Thursday's election was undoubtedly Geert Wilders, whose Party for Freedom (PVV) went from zero to four seats, making it the second biggest Dutch party in the Brussels parliament in its first European election.