Closely watched election in Netherlands


The Netherlands will be hitting the polls for national elections on Wednesday, March 15, which will kickstart the year of Europe's political tally.

On Tuesday, a Liss panel poll showed VVD likely to lead in the upcoming election with a 16 percent approval rating and PVV tailing it with 13.6 percent of projected votes.

The already dramatic campaign, which also saw Wilders temporarily suspend his campaign last month over a security leak, took another twist in its final days. The party also looks to increase the Democrats' stance in government with policies including legalising the production of marijuana. It showed Rutte as refusing to bow to pressure from outside, a stance which has widespread backing in the nation.

When Mr Wilders attacked Mr Rutte for failing to expel the Turkish ambassador in the row over last weekend's planned pro-Erdogan rally in Rotterdam and the riots that followed its cancellation, Mr Rutte said he stood over the hard decision to prevent two Turkish ministers from speaking. "And I still haven't heard how you are going to achieve the Quran police", said Rutte.

But in a response which sparked applause from the studio audience, the Prime Minister referenced Wilders love of tweeting.

Current polls suggest that incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte is marginally ahead, buoyed by recent support following a diplomatic row with Turkey.

The prime ministers' party is not the only political party stating publicly that it will never form a coalition with the far right leader. Wilders' Party for Freedom wants to curb immigration and take the Netherlands out of the European Union.

"The Netherlands does not belong to all of us", he proclaimed.

Wilders, meanwhile, is tapping into discontent among voters who say they are not benefiting from economic recovery.

Regardless of whether Wilders joins the government, however, this election will be significant in terms of the future role of the Netherlands-and indeed Europe-in the world.

Do you know your PVV from your VVD?

"They have two passports, which is a problem indeed", he said, adding that Erdogan's assertions that he represents second and even third generation immigrants "has to stop".

The 150 parliamentary seats are allocated in exact proportion to a party's vote share and no major party wants to be in a coalition with Mr Wilders, so it would appear he has little chance of entering government however well he performs. For many observers, Wednesday's elections are a harbinger of how European electorates will respond to surging movements led by radical right, nationalist, and xenophobic politicians in 2017. 50Plus leader Henk Krol, expected to win 10 seats, wrote in an opinion piece that Freedom Party voters shouldn't be excluded beforehand, because "everyone will understand what impression that will leave and how the Freedom Party can grow stronger from this".

"Our prime minister did a very good job at the right moment for the elections", said Albert Busch, an entrepreneur from Limmen.

2016 was a tempestuous year with the unexpected decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union following its referendum and the election of Donald Trump as president of the USA.