Netherlands to Vote in Parliamentary Elections on Wednesday

Netherlands to Vote in Parliamentary Elections on Wednesday

Amid years of increasing refugee populations in the Netherlands, immigration played a central role and ultimately became a flashpoint in Wednesday's contentious parliamentary election.

Already numerous political party leaders have cast their votes across the Netherlands in thee parliamentary election.

Geert Wilders, the divisive figure at the head of this anti-immigration euroskeptic party, has led the opinion polls for the last few months and was favourite to win the popular vote.

Wilders, whose campaign slogan is "Let's Make the Netherlands Ours Again", has said he will close the country's mosques, ban the Koran and withdraw from the European Union if his party forms the next government.

The Dutch Labour 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 exit poll.

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.

He added that a lack of trade deal with the United Kingdom would also be detrimental to the Netherlands, which now exports 8 percent of its goods to Britain.

Prime Minister Rutte's right-wing VVD party led the polls ahead of the opening of the Dutch polling booths, but with strong support for Mr Wilders' anti-Islam Party for Freedom.

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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.

"This patriotic revolution, whether today or tomorrow, will take place", he said in the capital, The Hague.

Most attention is on the Freedom Party, which most other parties have said they would refuse to join in a coalition.

The Netherlands parliament is chosen by a party-list proportional representation system that results in unwieldy coalition governments.

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

A total of 28 parties, equaling the post-World War II record of 1971 and 1981, and 1,114 candidates joined the race for the 150 seats in the House of Representatives. Far-right movements have taken hold in both countries, which are also set to hold elections this year.

The two parties in the center also have far more in common with Rutte than they do with the Socialists.

Pollsters were notoriously inaccurate at predicting the outcome of the British referendum, known as Brexit, as well as the USA election, therefore no one is expected to claim victory until long after the polls have closed at 9 p.m. local time.

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