Dutch vote in euro-dominated general election

The Netherlands voted in crunch polls Wednesday seen as a barometer of anti-European sentiment after a riveting campaign that has shaped into a tight race between two pro-Europe parties.

The ruling Liberal VVD party of pro-austerity Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the Labour PvdA of rising star and former Greenpeace activist Diederik Samsom are battling it out for the top spot in the fifth election in 10 years.

Polls predict that both parties will send around 35 MPs to the 150-seat lower house, with 19 other parties scrambling to be part of the eventual ruling coalition.

Despite a campaign dominated by anti-Brussels rhetoric, the vote is expected to return a centrist coalition government that will remain committed to austerity and staying in the EU.

And in a key ruling for the eurozone's future, the top court in neighbouring Germany approved a new European firewall for ratification by parliament that is seen as a crucial crisis-fighting tool.

Fiscally prudent Rutte's government has been allied to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, while Samsom's calls for stimulus echo those of France's Socialist President Francois Hollande, elected this year on similar promises.

Both parties have lashed out at the EU status quo during campaigning, but the Dutch export-based economy cannot afford to call into question membership in the bloc, where it sends 75 percent of its exports.

Rutte voted at his former school in a chic neighbourhood of The Hague, vowing to stick to the path of austerity and threatening to cut aid to spendthrift southern nations.

"We will continue with our close relationship with Germany and Finland in fighting the eurocrisis," Rutte told journalists, campaigning to the last for support from the countries over 12 million voters.

"Greece and the others have to live up to their promises. And if not, we can't help them."

Samsom voted early in nearby Leiden, the day after telling the campaign's final televised debate that: "It's a mistake to think that the crisis can be resolved by a choice between Paris or Berlin."

Many in the eurozone's fifth-largest economy are fed up with bailing out indebted eurozone members while swallowing their own budget cuts but voters are expected nevertheless to shun anti-EU parties for the mainstream.

"People say a lot of things during the campaign and then there's reality. Europe is important. It takes time," engineer Michiel de Haan, 30, told AFP as he voted at a train station in The Hague.

"What's at stake is dealing with the crisis and I think that the Dutch are pragmatic, they won't vote for extremes," said civil servant Chris Schaapman, 44, as he voted before going to work.

"The Netherlands' place in Europe won't change even if there are fewer pro-Europeans than a few years ago."

Firebrand far-right leader Geert Wilders brought down the last government in April after refusing to approve an austerity-driven budget and his PVV party is expected to lose seats this time round as well as any shot at power.

The PVV has switched its attacks from Muslims to Brussels, vowing to pull out of the euro and the EU itself if they come to power. But many Dutch voters and the political mainstream have decided that Wilders is simply unreliable.

The hard-left, eurosceptic Socialist Party led by Emile Roemer surged in August but his popularity ebbed after Samsom seized the initiative in a string of televised debates during which Roemer was perceived as hesitant.

Despite German fears of losing a key ally, whatever shape the new government of the traditionally frugal Netherlands takes it will stick to helping Merkel crack the austerity whip on the backs of indebted southern European nations.

But even after Dutch exit poll predictions are announced shortly after polls close at 7 pm (1900 GMT), it will take weeks if not months for the new coalition to be formed.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Pacquiao pleads for Indonesia to spare death row Filipina
    Pacquiao pleads for Indonesia to spare death row Filipina

    World boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao took time out Monday from final preparations for his $400 million megafight with Floyd Mayweather to plead for the life of a Filipina on death row in Indonesia. Pacquiao, a national hero in the Philippines, added his voice to a chorus of global opposition led by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the executions of a group of eight foreign drug convicts, including compatriot Mary Jane Veloso. The eight-division world champion, who will face …

  • Halt Indonesia drug executions until graft claims probed: Australia
    Halt Indonesia drug executions until graft claims probed: Australia

    Australia urged Indonesia Monday to delay the execution of two men for drug offences until a corruption probe into their case is complete, after a report that judges sought tens of thousands of dollars in bribes. "Bali Nine" drug traffickers Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan could face the firing squad within days, along with others from Brazil, Nigeria, the Philippines and an Indonesian prisoner. The Indonesian attorney-general's office said the executions would take place this week but did …

  • FordPH Launches the All-New Mustang
    FordPH Launches the All-New Mustang

    Ford Philippines launched the all-new Mustang in a rock concert held at Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, last week .  The All-New Mustang is the sixth generation since Ford  launched the first model in April 17, 1964. “The all-new Mustang represents the very best of Ford and its arrival marks the latest chapter of the iconic muscle car’s rich legacy, crafted with a more contemporary look and feel.  With a history spanning more than 50 years, this iconic car is at the heart and soul of Ford and …

  • China maritime tensions dominate Southeast Asia summit
    China maritime tensions dominate Southeast Asia summit

    By Manuel Mogato and Praveen Menon KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Southeast Asian leaders edged closer to open criticism of China's land reclamation in the disputed South China Sea at a regional summit on Monday, as the Philippines drew the ire of Beijing which called its objections to the work "unreasonable". The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Kuala Lumpur, which was supposed to showcase the 10-member bloc's progress towards economic integration, was overshadowed by the …

  • The ‘All You Need’ 2015 Isuzu D-MAX launched
    The ‘All You Need’ 2015 Isuzu D-MAX launched

    Isuzu Philippines Corporation (IPC) just recently introduced the 2015 Isuzu D-MAX pick-up truck at the Clark International Raceway to show that their pick-up model can conquer any kind of terrain.The high-end LS variant and standard LT 4x4 is now equipped with a more powerful engine, the 4JK1-TC (Hi) 2.5-liter engine which with Common Rail Direct Injection and an intercooled Variable Geometry System (VGS) turbocharger. IPC also introduced a new standard ride variant, the LT-X 4x2 manual …

  • Limited Edition Honda CR-V and Jazz now available
    Limited Edition Honda CR-V and Jazz now available

    If you’ve always wanted to be part of an exclusive group of car owners, now might be the time for you to consider getting a Honda CR-V or Jazz.  Honda Cars Philippines Inc. (HCPI) just came out with their limited edition All New Jazz and New CR-V. …

  • ToyotaPH hit its highest monthly sales last March
    ToyotaPH hit its highest monthly sales last March

    Toyota Motors Philippines hit its highest monthly sales to date last March, registering 10,237 units sold.  This recent CAMPI report puts Toyota’s market share at 43.5% last month. …

  • VolkswagenPH launches Child Safety Initiative
    VolkswagenPH launches Child Safety Initiative

    Volkswagen Philippines just  launched the VW Child Safety Initiative (CSI) campaign which aims to support child safety on Philippine roads at the just concluded Manila International Auto Show (MIAS). The World Health Organization’s road safety facts show about 1.24 million die each year globally as a result of vehicle related accidents. Child restraint systems like child seats and booster seats also reduce risk for children by about 70% for infants and upto 80% for small children. This …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options