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Establishment, Nationalists Face Off in Dutch Election

  • VOA Staff

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, left, and PVV party leader Geert Wilders, right, wait to take their turn in the closing debate at parliament in The Hague, Netherlands, March 14, 2017.

People in The Netherlands are voting Wednesday in a parliamentary election with a focus on the battle between parties led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte and anti-immigrant, anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders.

Polls ahead of the vote showed Rutte's VVD party with a narrow lead over Wilders' PVV party.

A number of parties are represented in the Dutch parliament, so no matter which party wins the most seats a coalition will be needed to form the next government.Those negotiations could take months, and the largest parties have all indicated they will not be working with Wilders.

Wilders has campaigned on pledges of banning Muslim immigrants, closing mosques, prohibiting the sales of the Quran and a desire to withdraw from the European Union.

The Dutch vote will be followed by two others this year in Europe that feature prominent right-wing nationalist figures.France picks its new president in April, while Germany holds elections in September.

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