Rutte and Wilders clash on EU ahead of Dutch vote

Activists celebrate the results of the Dutch elections. Pic  AFP

Mr Rutte hoped to slow the momentum of what he called the "wrong sort of populism" after last's year Brexit vote and the election of President Donald Trump.

"All the other parties have said they won't work with Mr Wilders - he is a man with a driving license, who doesn't have a vehicle".

He has vowed to close the borders to Muslim immigrants, shut mosques and ban sales of the Koran.

Peter Altmaier tweeted: "Netherlands oh Netherlands you are a champion". Wilders's PVV is in a fight for second place at 19 seats with two centrist parties, the Christian Democratic Appeal and Democrats 66.

Up to 13 million Dutch people took to the polls today to have their say in the momentous Dutch election 2017.

Jesse Klaver, the 30-year-old leader of the Green Left party, accused Prime Minister Mark Rutte of cynicism for defending a 2016 deal between the European Union and Turkey that slashed the flow of migrants into Europe.

The largest party in the latest polls is the rightist liberal party VVD of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who had governed with Labor PvdA over the last four years and four months.

With two days to go until the Dutch vote in a pivotal parliamentary election, pollster Maurice De Hond found that the spat between the Netherlands and Turkey, and Saturday's night of rioting by ethnic Turks in Rotterdam, had benefited the two parties that have been most skeptical on immigration.

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Even if Wilders' populist party were to win the popular vote in the election, it is still unlikely he would become the next Dutch prime minister as many of his rivals have ruled out forming a coalition with the PVV.

"The Netherlands belongs to all of us, and everyone who does his best", he said.

It does not look as if Mr Wilders can win enough seats to be part of a future Dutch government, but if he wins more seats than any other party it will add to the stresses and strains on the ruling coalition which emerges from the election.

An aggregate of six polls published early this morning showed him on 14%, that was down from the 20% he was polling steadily in the run up to the election.

Rutte's right-wing VVD party is narrowly leading polls ahead of the election.

The Netherlands goes to the polls on Wednesday to elect 150 members for the lower house of parliament and a new government.

If the Dutch far right does well, it will increase speculation about the chances of Marine Le Pen pulling off a shock victory in France and increase pressure on the Euro whereas a moderate victory will soothe jangled nerves.

Wednesday's election is expected to be followed by protracted coalition talks between several parties since no single party is likely to have an outright majority.


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