Holland’s election are today. It is the first of three national elections in key EU member states in 2017. France is next with an April first round and May second round elections and Germany finishes out the cycle in September.
Voters are going to the polls in the Netherlands in the first of three crucial eurozone elections this year.
The race is dominated by Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s centre-right party and that of Geert Wilders, running on an anti-immigration platform.
Mr Rutte has said the election is an opportunity for voters to “beat the wrong sort of populism”.
Mr Wilders has pledged to take the Netherlands out of the EU, close all mosques and ban the Koran.
His Freedom Party had been leading in opinion polls but they have since suggested his support may be slipping.
Voter turnout so far has been high, with turnout at 12:45 GMT at 33%, compared to 27% at the last election in 2012, Reuters reports.
France goes to the polls next month to elect a new president while Germany is due to hold a general election in September.
Here is Duetsche Welle’s rundown:
The Dutch will head to the polls on March 15 for a general election that is widely viewed as a baromoter of populist strength in Europe ahead of votes in France and Germany later this year.
The vote comes after the UK’s Brexit referendum and Donald Trump’s victory in the United States, raising concerns for some that the Netherlands could be next domino to fall to an anti-establishment movement.
Historically an open trading nation, the Netherlands has long been known for liberalism and multiculturalism. But as elsewhere in Europe, a refugee influx since 2015, combined with anti-EU sentiment, has fueled the rise of an anti-immigrant movement: the Party for Freedom (PVV), led by firebrand nationalist Geert Wilders.
After enjoying a healthy lead for two years, the PVV is now polling neck and neck at about 16 percent with Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), which is in a governing coalition with the Labor Party (PvdA). But even if the PVV comes out as the top party, none of the mainstream parties will enter a coalition with Wilders.
Wilders has nonetheless framed current and future political debates around his anti-Islam, anti-immigrant and euroskeptic rhetoric. He has drawn support from disgruntled voters concerned about crime, Dutch identity and what is viewed as overreach by bureaucrats in Brussels, especially with regard to immigration policy and austerity.
A full rundown on the candidates at the link.
And here’s the link to Duetsche Welle‘s live updates.
Welcome to our rolling coverage of the Dutch election, with the latest news, views and reactions to the divisive race.
- Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s center-right VVD party is attempting to fend off populist leader Geert Wilders in parliamentary elections that have garnered international attention.
- In a diplomatic spat Turkey has accused Netherlands of Nazi practices and of being responsible for the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, reportedly playing into the popularity of VVD.
- Six main parties are predicted to enter parliament: the ruling VVD, Wilder’s Party for Freedom, the centrist D66, Green-Left, the Socialist Party and the social democrat Labor Party (PvdA).
All updates in Central European Time (CET)
16.00 Reseach bureau Ipsos, which is gathering polling data, reports that turnout reached 43 percent by 3:45 pm local time, up from 37 percent in 2012.
Today is an important and crucial test to see if the Dutch can hold off Wilders and his ethnic neo-Nationalist movement. The Dutch have a multi-party system that almost always requires the formation of a coalition government. Reporting indicates that none of the major parties will join any coalition with Wilders. So even if his PVV wins the most seats he can still be locked out of governing.
Elections in the Netherlands are contested by a patchwork of parties, but a few traditional contenders usually top the bill to form a moderate coalition. This year will be different: eight parties are projected to gain 10 or more seats of an available 150, meaning a narrower lead for the largest parties. It is this more uniform distribution of votes, rather than a dramatic increase in support, that could lead to the PVV gaining the most seats on March 15.
Even if it becomes the largest party however, the PVV’s path to power could be blocked. Many parties, including the conservative VVD, have refused to join a coalition involving Mr Wilders.
Populist parties in the Netherlands have won significant numbers of seats in elections since the early 2000s, suggesting the social issues driving Mr Wilders’ success are longstanding. But these charts show that the landscape of Dutch politics is shifting even farther away from traditional parties than before, and that the country could struggle to form a ruling coalition after election day.
Lots more and some excellent charts at FT.
As the FT report indicated, even if the mainstream Dutch parties can lock Wilders out, they are still going to need to address the issues that Wilders inflames and manipulates. If they do not, eventually they will not be able to keep him form attaining real power within the the Dutch government. Doing so protects the Dutch Grey Zone, the civil space, that Wilders seeks to poison in service of his own ambition and that Putin seeks to manipulate in service of his strategic interests of fragmenting the EU and NATO.