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Dutch voters head to polls as divisive elections kick off in Netherlands

March 15, 2017, 11:41 UTC+3 THE HAGUE
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THE HAGUE, March 15. /TASS/. Polling stations across the Netherlands opened at 7.30 am local time (9.30 am Moscow Time) on Wednesday, as the country’s parliamentary elections got underway. The voting will continue until 9 pm (11 pm Moscow Time), after which the ballot count will begin. The preliminary outcome of the elections is expected to be announced shortly after midnight March 16.

Data provided by the Peilingwijzer platform, which sums up the results of six opinion polls, shows there are no clear frontrunners in the election race. According to some surveys, the list is topped by the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy. However, it can only count on 26 of 150 seats, which is far from the success in its previous elections held in 2012 (41 seats in parliament). It is followed by the right-wing Party for Freedom led by Geert Wilders, which is likely to receive 22 seats, that is, seven seats more than in 2012. But Wilders, too, has little ground for optimism, given that three months ago polls predicted his party would get 37 seats.

Some other movements, including the centrist Christian Democratic Appeal and Democrats-66 (D-66), along with the left-wing Socialist Party and the Green Left, are also among the most popular political parties.

Against the backdrop of such a political landscape, it is clear now that the process of putting together a ruling coalition will be complex and will take a lot of time. The leaders of all major movements said long before the elections that under no circumstances would they cooperate with Wilders who is known for his anti-Islamic and anti-European statements, which means that the right-wing party will again be in the opposition. Experts believe that the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, the Christian Democratic Appeal and Democrats 66 will form the core of the new Cabinet, but so far these movements have only 63 out of the required 76 seats. In spite of having divergent opinions on a number of issues, they will have to bring one or several movements over to their side and, accordingly, make some concessions.

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