Prime Minister Mark Rutte and anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders cast Wednesday’s Dutch parliamentary elections as a litmus test for populism in Europe, only months ahead of crucial votes in France and Germany.
Nearly 13 million Dutch people are set to vote today. He did not say who he voted for.
Turnout was just over 81 percent, eight percent lower than the record of 88 percent achieved in 1977. This would easily surpass 2012’s national election in which 74.6 per cent of eligible voters participated.
– The Euro was broadly steady Wednesday as investors took the view that there was little event risk in the Dutch elections. This means that the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) is usually fractured and coalitions have to be constructed via a long process of compromises.
The Dutch parliamentary system requires that the victor achieve an outright majority to form a majority government; in the absence of that, the victor must build a majority coalition among other parties (76 parliamentary seats out of 150).
Rutte’s center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy was reported to be slightly ahead of Wilders’ Party of Freedom over the last few days.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative coalition, which comprises her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Bavarian CSU party, is, according to polls, in a dead heat or even slightly behind the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), which has named popular former European Parliament president Martin Schulz as its candidate. The race to become the biggest party is wide open. A PVV win would nevertheless send shock waves across Europe.
Monday’s debate, plus Tuesday’s vote-eve round-table with eight political party leaders, could yet sway the poll, one analyst told AFP, estimating some 60 percent of Dutch voters remain undecided.
While one opinion poll indicated that Wilder’s comments regarding the Turkish protesters would help him win Wednesday’s election, other polls suggested Rutte’s hard lined stance on the political rallies in the first place would give him a boost in the polls, BBC News reported Wednesday. Regardless of how it performs, the party will struggle to form a government.
It comes after the British referendum decision to leave the European Union last June, which encouraged those with nationalist and anti-immigration sentiments and has raised questions about the long-term viability of the 28-member bloc.
For his part, Prime Minister Rutte has urged the Dutch to take the election seriously and be cautious about registering a protest vote.
The Dutch felt the proposed presentations were ill-timed given the heightened concerns about immigration and Islamic radicalization dominating much of the Dutch election rhetoric.
On the evening of the elections preliminary, non-official results will be presented in the media, based on a quick count of votes by the electoral committees.
Do you know your PVV from your VVD?