AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, June 5 (UPI) -- Geert Wilders, the Dutch anti-immigrant maverick, apparently led his party to a surprising runnerup slot in the Netherlands' European elections, officials say.
Exit polls in the election to choose a European parliament indicate Wilders' Freedom Party won 15 percent of the vote and claimed 25 seats Thursday. That would be enough for a second place finish to The Christian Democrats of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and a step ahead of the Labor party of Wouter Bos, The Guardian reported.
Only two of 27 European Union countries, Britain and the Netherlands, voted Thursday. Elections are scheduled Sunday in 18 other countries.
Wilders has been at the center of mostly negative publicity and the virulence of his anti-Islam and anti-immigrant activities saw him barred from entering Britain earlier this year. Dutch authorities meanwhile are prosecuting him for inciting hatred.
He is under 24-hour security amid intense hostility to his statements on Islam, likening the Koran to Hitler's Mein Kampf, and making a film depicting Islam as a source of violence and terrorism.
Wilders advocates the abolishment of the European parliament, removal of Bulgaria and Romania from the European Union and deportation of immigrants from the Netherlands.