Sunday, 25 June, 2017

Dutch PM Rutte beats back controversial far-right leader

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Saul Franklin | 16 March, 2017, 00:45

With elections in France and Germany scheduled for later this year already showing unprecedented support for far-right populism, political and financial observers are concerned by the potential of a "Trump-style" shift away from traditional politics in favour of the emerging European alt-right.

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.

Wilders has pledged to close the borders to Muslim immigrants, shut mosques, ban sales of the Koran and leave the EU.

But Wilders countered by saying to Rutte: "No one in the Netherlands believes you anymore".

In a subplot of the elections, the Dutch Labor Party of Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem appeared to have been punished by voters in the election, plunging from 38 seats at the last election to just nine, according to the Ipsos exit poll.

"It is my task to keep the nation safe and stable and deal with these kinds of people", Rutte said.

A graphic from the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf shows the prime minister's VVD party is leading, even though its share of the vote has fallen since 2012.

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Rutte's Liberal VVD would scoop up 31 seats in the new parliament making it the largest party, with Wilders and his Freedom Party (PVV) sharing second place on 19 seats with two other parties, the public broadcaster NOS said.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and far-right populist Geert Wilders have locked horns in a furious debate on live television for the first time. Turnout during the last election, when there were 21 parties running, was 74.6 percent of registered voters (which is nearly all citizens of voting age in the Netherlands).

He previously said that the "patriotic revolution" would continue to take place, and "the genie will not go back into the bottle".

Unlike most polls, the LISS panel also asks voters to give a percentage likelihood of their voting for a given party. But since all other major parties have refused to form a coalition with the far right group, it is extremely unlikely that Mr Wilders - who lives under 24-hour security - will end up in government.

The Dutch political system also works on a system of proportional representation, which means the 150 parliamentary seats are allocated in exact proportion to the amount of votes each party wins.

That's because 28 parties are participating in the election, and no one party is expected to win the majority of seats.

At the moment, VVD has 40 seats in the House of Representatives, followed by PvdA, the Socialist Party, CDA, PVV and Democrats 66.

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