Netherlands: Liberal party leads polls ahead of September elections
September 3, 2012
Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his Liberal Party have taken the lead in the upcoming 12 September parliamentary elections. According to the latest polls (TNS Nipo poll from 28 August), the Liberal Party would win 36 seats in the 150-seat parliament, while the Dutch Socialist Party, headed by Emile Roemer, would win 30 seats. Elections were called after Geert Wilders, the leader of the right-wing Freedom Party withdrew his support over disagreements over new austerity measures in order to comply with European deficit limits. Wilders, whose parties hovers around 10% of the votes, stands isolated with his radical demands of leaving the European Union and returning to the Dutch guilder. However, other parties also balk at the high cost of bailing out weaker Eurozone economies and the pressure for fiscal austerity at home. Therefore, even if the elections confirm Rutte's lead in the polls, he will struggle to gain the necessary support for implementing austerity policies aimed at reining in the fiscal deficit back within EU limits next year. Forming a coalition is further complicated by the highly fractioned parliament, with latest polls suggesting that 11 parties will win seats.