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And they're off: Dutch kickstart European election cycle

16 March 2017

Mr Wilders will also have to contend with a re-awakening of the anti-Populist left embodied in the figure of Jesse Klaver, a dynamic 30-year-old of Moroccan, Dutch and Indonesian descent whose progressive GreenLeft party has also done well in the polls.

Indeed while Rutte has presented himself as an opponent of Wilders' brand of Islamophobia, Wilder's rhetoric has pushed Rutte's People's Party even further to the right, with Rutte taking out full page ads during the election demanding that immigrants "act normal or get out".

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.

It is not clear who will benefit from row this weekend between the Netherlands and Turkey over Two Turkish ministers being barred from addressing rallies in the Dutch city of Rotterdam.

If the informateur is successful, the monarch appoints the leader of the coalition as the prospective prime minister (formateur), who then allocates ministerial portfolios.

But Wilders and his party, the Party for Freedom (PVV), are far from the only force in the election.

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.

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

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Current Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his Party for Freedom and Democracy face the strongest opposition from the Freedom Party, and Geert Wilders and his anti-immigration and anti-Islam platform.

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.

Unlike most polls, the LISS panel also asks voters to give a percentage likelihood of their voting for a given party. Regardless of how it performs, the party will struggle to form a government.

Rutte's handling of the crisis with Ankara - barring one Turkish minister from flying into the country, and expelling another - appears to have boosted his image.

Under the Dutch proportional representation system, many parties are set to gain representation in the 150-seat parliament, in a vote described as highly unpredictable.

The French presidential election begins next month, with far-right, anti-euro leader Marine Le Pen seen winning the first round but losing heavily in the run-off.

The three parties are projected to win 69 seats.

And they're off: Dutch kickstart European election cycle