Dutch voting in knife-edge election | Guardian Nigeria News

Dutch voters headed to the polls on Wednesday for a tough election that will change the country’s political landscape after Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s record 13 years in office.

Opinion polls have been volatile ahead of voting day, with four candidates, including a far-right candidate, expected to take the reins of the EU’s fifth-largest economy.

The stakes are high. As a force above its own ranks in the European Union and on the world stage, the Netherlands is a firm supporter of strict fiscal discipline in Ukraine and the eurozone.

But polls show the majority of voters remain undecided until just before Election Day, making for a tense and unpredictable vote.

“For me, this election is a little different because anyone could win. In the end, there were two candidates. I flipped a coin and chose one,” said the 54-year-old. Manager Vincent Spiker told AFP after the vote.

Voting will close at 9pm (2000 Japan time), when the exit poll will be announced. Voter turnout is relatively high, usually over 70%.

Will the Netherlands elect its first female prime minister? Rutte’s successor, the centre-right VVD leader, Dilan Ecilgos, is hoping to end her illustrious career by securing the top spot. .

The charismatic 46-year-old, who was born in Turkey, has taken a hard line on immigration and has pledged to reduce the number of refugees, but she is also a young woman who followed her father, who was seeking asylum, into the world. It’s a contradiction for many people to think about how they came to this place.

Hard-working, media-savvy and with a strong Instagram presence, Yesilgoz has dismissed the fact that she will make history as the first female prime minister, but told AFP at a recent rally that the time had come. ” he said.

Ecilgoz immediately raised eyebrows by declaring his intention to welcome anti-Muslim agitator Geert Wilders into the VVD-led coalition government. This is a fundamental departure from Rutte’s policies.

Mr Wilders has sought to tone down some of his more hard-line views, saying there are “bigger issues” than reducing asylum numbers and putting some of his anti-Muslim positions in the “freezer”. He also said that there is a possibility of keeping it.

In a debate on the eve of the election, Wilders insisted that if he were prime minister he would govern “for all Dutch people”.

His PVV party had some momentum in the final days of the campaign, showing significant gains in opinion polls, and he is likely to play a role in the post-election campaign.

Mr Wilders’ victory would be a political shock beyond the Netherlands, but it is unclear who will accept to join the PVV-led coalition, making it extremely difficult to form a government.

– “St. Peter” –
Maverick MP and whistleblower Peter Omzicht has thrown a massive spanner into the creation of an entirely new political party, the New Social Contract (NSC).

Nicknamed “St. Peter” and seen by many as a political savior in the movement to clean up Dutch politics, he was at one time the clear favorite.

However, uncertainty about whether he really wanted the top job seemed to be holding him back, and his approval ratings seemed to decline in the final stages of the campaign.

He told AFP that who becomes prime minister was “secondary” and that he ultimately gave in to daily questioning and said he would lead a cabinet of experts, not politicians.

If Yecilgoz, Omzicht and Wilders are all on the political right, former European Commissioner Frans Timmermans wants to build a left-wing wall to keep them out.

The 62-year-old architect of the EU’s Green Deal brings experience, climate credentials and a safe hand to the campaign.

His approval ratings soared in the final stages of the election, with analysts saying left-wing voters were uniting with his Greens and Labor Party to block a right-wing coalition.

Immigration, the cost of living and the severe housing crisis that particularly affects young voters in the Netherlands have been key themes in the election.

Experts say the Netherlands is also looking for a change in its governing style after Rutte became prime minister, mired in scandal and known as the “Teflon Mark” for his ability to withstand anything.

In the Netherlands’ fragmented “polder” political system, no party is expected to win more than 20% of the vote, meaning coalition deals will begin as soon as the results are released.

It took 271 days for the last government to be established.

Until then, it’s complete suspense. “Anyone who knows who is going to win this election is flat out lying,” political analyst Julia Wouters told AFP.

“Anything can happen from now on.”

Source: guardian.ng

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