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News

Dutch election on knife edge

Exit polls in the latest Dutch elections show Prime Minister Mark Rutte's ruling Liberal party leading by one seat. They also predict a massive loss of seats for the far-right PVV party.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (AFP)

Mark Rutte

An exit poll by the Dutch broadcaster NOS/RTL showed the two pro-European parties, Liberal and Labour, had 41 and 40 seats respectively.

This is out of a total of 150 seats in the parliament of the Netherlands.

Battling it out for the top job are incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte, of the Liberals, and ex-Greenpeace activist Diederik Samsom of the centre-left Labour Party.

The same polls showed the far-right PVV party, led by Geert Wilders, would lose almost half the 24 seats the party held in the outgoing parliament.

The election was set to be shaped by the ongoing eurozone debt crisis, and the two parties in the lead are pro-European.

Wednesday's vote had been billed as a referendum on northern Europe's view of European crisis management and its stamina for cuts, with Dutch taxpayers showing signs of frustration over increasing demands for austerity as well as financial bailouts for ailing eurozone economies elsewhere.

While Rutte's government is allied to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's doctrine of strict austerity, Samsom has campaigned on a pledge to stimulate the economy. Similar promises saw French President Francois Hollande storm to victory in elections earlier this year.

jr/ipj (Reuters, AFP)