Wilders (centre) participating in a kids parliament. Photo: Facebook

Wilders tells Rutte that three largest parties should form coalition

Dutch opposition leader Geert Wilders has urged the three largest parties which will emerge from this week’s election, to discuss the next coalition. His PVV party is currently in second position in the polls. 

Published: March 15, 2021, 1:13 pm

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    The Hague

    Voting started in the Dutch general election on Monday, which is being held over three days to ensure social distancing at polling stations due to Covid-19.

    Wilders, running on an anti-immigration ticket, called caretaker prime minister Mark Rutte’s statement to rule him out as a potential coalition partner before the election “very undemocratic”. He reminded Rutte that “voters are in charge, not Mark Rutte” in an interview with Dutch NPO Radio 1. He described Rutte as a “full-blooded power broker” who would cut whatever deal he needed to stay in office. “Today it’s with the PVV, tomorrow with Labour (PvdA), the next day with D66.”

    The PVV is on course to retain the 20 seats it won last time, while the CDA is most likely to come in third place. Meanwhile, all polls have given Rutte’s liberal VVD group the lead with at least 30 projected seats in the lower house.

    Even though the VVD has said that it does not want to cooperate with the PVV, the parties are obliged to do so because voters decide.  In January 2017, Rutte also said that he did not want to cooperate with Wilders because of Wilders’ statements about biased judges and unwanted criminal Moroccans. The first Rutte cabinet collapsed after 18 months when Wilders refused to sign off on an austerity package.

    The left-wing D66 has been gaining ground on the CDA as voters as a result of D66 leader Sigrid Kaag’s campaign, and is projected to win between 14 and 16 seats. CDA and D66 were both partners in Rutte’s last coalition, along with the ChristenUnie (CU).

    On Monday, polling stations opened at 7:30am and will close at 9pm over the next three days nationwide. In total, some 13 million people are eligible to cast their ballot. Dutch voters over the age of 70 was sent a postal vote so they could avoid potential queues.

    Some railway stations – Utrecht Centraal, Bilthoven, Den Bosch, Hilversum, Leiden Centraal and Schiedam Centrum are currently registered polling stations, while schools, churches, theatres and even private homes have also been also included. Unlike during previous elections, campaigning has continued during the ballot and opinion polls have not been banned.

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