Netherlands goes to the polls
Around 12.9 million registered voters are entitled to go to the polls today to elect the 150 members of the House of Representatives or Tweede Kamer (the lower house). There are 28 parties and 1,114 candidates standing in the election with voting taking place between 7.30 a.m. and 9.00 p.m. local time.
In the 2012 general election the centre-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) led by Mark Rutte won 41 seats and the centre-left Labour Party (PvdA) took 38 seats. After that the right-wing to far right Party for Freedom (PVV) led by Geert Wilders which is also hard Eurosceptic, anti-Islam and anti-immigration took 15 seats as did the left-wing Socialist Party (SP). The centrist Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) won 13 seats and the centrist Democrats 66 (D66) won 12 seats. Five smaller parties also entered parliament.
This election has been well publicised worldwide because of the question of immigration and refugees from Syria, Iraq and other countries and the campaign by the PVV. Geert Wilders has also been prominent in his hard Eurosceptic line especially in the light of the British EU referendum last year.
Early campaign opinion polls suggested that the PVV were gaining traction and could emerge as the largest party. But in the last week the PVV has struggled to maintain traction and Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s VVD looks set to emerge the largest party. The last poll by I&O Research published on the Dutch News website suggests that the centre-right VVD will now emerge 11 seats ahead of Geert Wilders’ party with 27 seats. The PVV is expected to take 16 seats whilst the GroenLinks and D66 could take 20 seats each. The CDA is expected to win 19 seats whilst the Labour Party looks set to drop back to 11 seats. With such a volatile political scenario in the Netherlands at the moment polls should, however, be treated with great caution.