Dutch polls begin amid row with Turkey, populist surge

Mar 15, 2017, 6:59 AM EDT
The Netherlands' Prime Minister Mark Rutte
(Source: Sebastiaan ter Burg/flickr)

The Netherlands goes to polls on Wednesday in an election that comes amid a diplomatic face-off with Turkey, which analysts believe might tilt the race in favor of incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte's centre-right party.

Opinion polls have been showing a steady support for Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party, which has built its base on the wave of anti-immigrant sentiments and promises of closing all mosques and banning the Koran in the country, writes the BBC.

According to poll pundits, the Dutch ballot may result in a fragmented mandate to be followed by protracted coalition talks, notes Reuters. Rutte, currently running a government of two-party coalition, has already stated that he would not form a new government with Wilders’ support, should that situation arise.

The way Dutch Prime Minister handled the diplomatic row with Turkey strengthened his position as a leader, with an opinion poll showing 86 percent of the voters approving his tough stance, reports The Guardian.