Dutch go to the polls in close race
The Dutch go to the polls today in an early general election that was brought about after the collapse of the government over austerity talks on 23rd April.
In total, 21 parties will be fighting to fill the 150 seats in the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal). There are a total of 972 candidates participating in one or more of the 20 electoral districts across the country.
In the last general election in June 2010 the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) led by Mark Rutte took 31 seats to narrowly beat the Labour Party (PvdA) who took 30 seats.
The contest this time looks equally tight. Although early in the campaign the Labour Party suffered from a resurgent Socialist Party (SP), a poor performance by SP leader, Emile Roemer, in a TV debate saw the Labour Party charge back into a commanding position.
Three polls released on the eve of poll and published in Dutch News suggest that the VVD will win 35 seats and the PvdA will take 34 seats (TNS Nipo and EenVandaag). Another poll by Maurice de Hond poll suggests that the VVD and PvdA will both receive 36 seats.
De Hond puts the SP on 20 seats and the Party for Freedom (PVV) of Geert Wilders with 18 seats. The other two polls give the SP 21 seats and the PVV 17 seats.
Polling stations open at 6.30 a.m. or 7.30 a.m. and close at 9 p.m. local time for the roughly 12.5 million voters in the country.