- Title: Voters in The Hague head to polls in Dutch election
- Date: 15th March 2017
- Summary: THE HAGUE, THE NETHERLANDS (MARCH 15, 2017) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PEOPLE CYCLING BY DUTCH PARLIAMENTARY BUILDING 'BINNENHOF' SWANS IN POND OUTSIDE BUILDING (SOUNDBITE) (English) 35-YEAR-OLD ARCHITECT FROM THE HAGUE, NIELS VAN DEN BERG, SAYING: "I think I am more concerned about the issues of immigration. For example, my wife has been immigrated and successfully integrated into Dutch society. And it's a topic that concerns us so it's really personal for us." (SOUNDBITE) (English) STUDENT FROM THE HAGUE, LUCE DEN HOND, SAYING: "I like the fact that we are with more people with more cultures and it all comes together. I am not the kind of person who's like 'this is the Netherlands and we have to stay and keep it like this' because we already changed. You can't bring something back that already changed, I think." MAN RIDING BICYCLE OPPOSITE BINNENHOF PEOPLE SPEAKING OUTSIDE ENTRANCE TO CITY HALL POLLING STATION INSIDE CITY HALL POLLING OFFICIAL HANDING VOTING FORM TO VOTER (SOUNDBITE) (Dutch) TURKEY-BORN RESIDENT FROM THE HAGUE, HAIMAN BAKIR, SAYING: "What is unique about this election is that it is linked to the consequences of what happened between Turkey and the Netherlands. This had an impact on us who live in the Netherlands. I am happy that the Netherlands did not accept it because what Turkey is asking the European Union and the Netherlands is unacceptable." VOTERS CASTING BALLOTS VOTERS STEPPING OUT OF VOTING BOOTHS PEOPLE IN POLLING STATION
- Embargoed: 29th March 2017 12:47
- Keywords: Wilders Rutte Netherlands The Hague parliamentary election Islam vote
- Location: THE HAGUE, THE NETHERLANDS
- City: THE HAGUE, THE NETHERLANDS
- Country: Netherlands
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA001682LD8N
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Residents from The Hague voted on Wednesday (March 15) in a Dutch election seen as a test of nationalist feeling magnified by a furious row with Turkey.
The centre-right VVD party of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, 50, is vying with the PVV (Party for Freedom) of anti-Islam and anti-EU firebrand Geert Wilders, 53, to form the biggest party in parliament.
Wilders, who has vowed to "de-Islamicise" the Netherlands, has virtually no chance of forming a government given that all the leading parties have ruled out working with him, but a PVV win would still send shockwaves across Europe.
With immigration having become one of the key issues brought to the public debate by Wilders ahead of the election, voter Niels Van Den Berg said the election was of particular importance to him given his wife, a native from Thailand, just gained Dutch citizenship and would be voting for the first time.
In a nearby shopping street, student Luce den Hond said The Netherlands should embrace its multicultural make-up.
"I like the fact that we are with more people with more cultures and that it all comes together. I am not the kind of person who says: 'this is The Netherlands and we have to keep it like this' because we already changed. We can't bring something back that already changed," den Hond said.
As many as 13 million voters like them began casting ballots at polling stations across the country that will close at 9:00 p.m.
The vote is the first gauge this year of anti-establishment sentiment in the European Union and the bloc's chances of survival after the surprise victory of EU-sceptic Donald Trump in the United States and Britain's 2016 vote to exit the union.
Late opinion polls indicated a three percentage point lead for the outgoing Prime Minister's party over Wilders', with a slight boost from a rupture of diplomatic relations with Ankara after the Dutch banned Turkish ministers from addressing rallies of overseas Turks.
"What is unique about this election is linked to the consequences of what happened between Turkey and The Netherlands. This had an impact on us who live in the Netherlands. I am happy that The Netherlands did not accept it (Turkish government officials' wish to hold electoral meetings in the Netherlands) because what Turkey is asking the European Union and The Netherlands is unacceptable," said Haiman Bakir, a resident of The Hague born in Turkey.
Unlike the U.S. or French presidential elections, there will be no outright Dutch winner under its system of proportional representation. Up to 15 parties could win a seat in parliament and none are set to reach even 20 percent of the vote.
Experts predict a coalition-building process that will take many months once the final tally is known.
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