Sky News - The Dutch have begun voting in a
parliamentary election that is expected to produce the most fragmented
political landscape in the history of the country.
In a year of crucial votes in Europe, the Dutch vote
could give an indication of whether the tide of populism that swept
Britain towards Brexit and Donald Trump into the White house has reached
Most of the focus has been on "Holland's Donald Trump",
the controversial right-wing populist Geert Wilders whose Party for
Freedom is expected to perform well.
election in the Netherlands comes ahead of polls in France and Germany,
when right-wing nationalists will also be key players.
final election debate among leaders from the parties vying for seats and
control of the government, Mr Wilders continued with his anti-Islam
rhetoric, while incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte sought to highlight
his leadership experience.
The final days of campaigning have been overshadowed by a diplomatic crisis between the Dutch and Turkish governments.
the weekend, police used water cannon, horses and dogs to break up the
pro-Turkey demonstration attended by hundreds as some activists threw
bottles and stones.
The protest came after two Turkish ministers
were stopped from campaigning in the Netherlands in favour of giving
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan more powers in a referendum.
Mr Rutte has driven through unpopular austerity measures over the
last four years, but the Dutch economic recovery has gathered pace
recently and unemployment has fallen fast.
Geert Wilders has been tapping into discontent among voters who say they are not benefiting from economic recovery.
Mark Rutte's ruling VVD party holds a narrow lead over Wilders in most
polls, other parties are also still in the running and well placed to
play a role in forming the next coalition.