- Title: Rutte and Wilders face off in Dutch election as voters head to polls
- Date: 15th March 2017
- Summary: THE HAGUE, THE NETHERLANDS (MARCH 15, 2017) (REUTERS) ****WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** PEOPLE QUEUING OUTSIDE POLLING STATION VOTING SUPERVISORS SIGN WITH THE HAGUE MOTTO (Dutch): "PEACE AND JUSTICE" VOTING SUPERVISOR WRITING ON NOTEPAD VARIOUS OF PEOPLE IN VOTING BOOTH VARIOUS OF VOTERS CASTING BALLOTS BALLOTS ON TABLE DUTCH NATIONALIST CANDIDATE, GEERT WILDERS, SURROUNDED BY REPORTERS WILDERS WALKING TO VOTING BOOTH WILDERS CASTING VOTE (SOUNDBITE) (English) DUTCH NATIONALIST CANDIDATE, GEERT WILDERS, SAYING: "The people decide, it's election day, it's the crown jewel of any democracy today and the people decide whatever they want to decide. And finally at the end of the day, if they make a party strong it's also democracy and if they make a party weak it's also their decision. So despite any forces against us, it's the people who are in charge, for we are still a democracy." WILDERS SPEAKING TO REPORTERS (SOUNDBITE) (English) DUTCH NATIONALIST CANDIDATE, GEERT WILDERS, SAYING: "Well I say if you don't like the idea (of banning the Koran), don't come to Holland, you are free people, you can decide where to go and where not to go. I hope that we have less Islam in Holland, I think Islam and freedom are not compatible but we are a free country, you are free to go and leave whenever you want. So that's my message to them (Muslims)." REPORTERS LINED UP OUTSIDE POLLING STATION VARIOUS OF DUTCH PRIME MINISTER, MARK RUTTE, SURROUNDED BY REPORTERS AS HE ARRIVES AT POLLING STATION RUTTE GREETING VOTING SUPERVISORS VOTING SUPERVISOR RUTTE TAKING BALLOT AND WALKING TO VOTING BOOTH RUTTE CASTING VOTE PEOPLE QUEUING TO VOTE (SOUNDBITE) (English) DUTCH PRIME MINISTER, MARK RUTTE, ASKED ABOUT IF WILDERS WINS, SAYING: "Well I think the rest of the world will then see that after Brexit, after the American elections, again, the wrong sort of populism has won the day." SCHOOL CHILDREN FOLLOWING RUTTE (SOUNDBITE) (English) DUTCH PRIME MINISTER, MARK RUTTE, SAYING (IN RESPONSE WHEN ASKED TO COMMENT ON DIPLOMATIC ROW WITH TURKEY): "That has to be assessed later on, it's impossible for me to predict. This happened, we didn't seek it, we had to take our actions and clearly draw a line and we've done so. (JOURNALIST ASKING ABOUT ROW WITH ERDOGAN ESCALATING) We try to de-escalate but clearly he's getting more hysterical by the hour." PEOPLE QUEUING TO VOTE VOTING OFFICIAL PUTTING STAMP ON VOTING PAPER VARIOUS OF PEOPLE VOTING VOTING BALLOT BEING PUT INSIDE BOX
- Embargoed: 29th March 2017 12:07
- Keywords: Wilders Rutte Netherlands parliamentary election vote Turkey
- Location: THE HAGUE, THE NETHERLANDS
- City: THE HAGUE, THE NETHERLANDS
- Country: Netherlands
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA001682LRGN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Nationalist leader Geert Wilders, the two main candidates in the Dutch parliamentary election, cast their ballots on Wednesday (March 15), as people headed to the polls in an election seen as a test of nationalist feeling magnified by a furious row with Turkey in recent days.
The vote is the first of three this year in the European Union where anti-immigrant parties are seeking breakthroughs.
As many as 13 million voters began casting ballots at polling stations across the country that will close at 9:00 p.m.
The centre-right VVD party of Rutte, 50, is vying with the PVV (Party for Freedom) of anti-Islam and anti-EU firebrand 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.
The vote is the first gauge of anti-establishment sentiment in the European Union and the bloc's chances of survival after the surprise victory of EU-skeptic Donald Trump in the United States and Britain's 2016 vote to exit the union.
France chooses its next president, with far-right Marine Le Pen set to make the second-round run-off in May, while in September right-wing euroskeptic party Alternative for Germany, which has attacked Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door refugee policy, will probably win its first lower house seats.
In the Netherlands, late opinion polls indicated a three percentage point lead for Rutte's party over Wilders', although these did not fully take into account a rupture of diplomatic relations with Ankara after the Dutch banned Turkish ministers from addressing rallies of overseas Turks.
Unlike the U.S. or French presidential elections, there will be no outright Dutch winner, with up to 15 parties having a realistic chance of winning a seat in parliament and none set to gain even 20 percent of the vote.
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