Geert Wilders - Dutch PM Rutte 'has not seen the last of me'

Activists celebrate the results of the Dutch elections. Pic  AFP

The stakes are high, with Rutte's Liberals (VVD) predicted to return as the largest party in the 150-seat parliament with between 23 to 27 seats, according to the latest aggregated polls.

Dutch voters head to the polls Wednesday to select a new prime minister in an election that could send shockwaves across Europe.

Voters in the Netherlands headed to the polls Wednesday in a closely watched election that is being seen as a key barometer of the political mood in Europe and strength of the far right.

The election has been seen as another potential breakthrough for far-right and eurosceptic parties, following the Brexit vote a year ago and ahead of elections in France and Germany.

This year sees a presidential election in France, and general elections in Holland and Germany.

The speeches were meant to encourage the large Turkish expatriate population to vote "yes" in the upcoming Turkish referendum, which could expand President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers.

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Incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte's center-right People's Party for Freedom and Democracy party was leading in opinion polls ahead of the vote.

After casting his vote at around 9:30 am local time, Wilders remarked: "Whatever the outcome of the election today the genie will not go back into the bottle and this patriotic revolution, whether today or tomorrow, will take place".

The two parties in the center also have far more in common with Rutte than they do with the Socialists.

"It is my task to keep the nation safe and stable and deal with these kinds of people", Rutte said.

"I want the Netherlands to be the first country which stops this trend of the wrong sort of populism", Rutte said at a news conference.

Wilders had pledged to close the borders to Muslim immigrants, shut mosques, ban sales of the Koran and leave the European Union, if he was elected the largest party in the parliament.

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Rutte is warning that a "Nexit", - the Netherlands leaving the European Union - would be a mistake.

For Wilders, the poll was a test whether his fiery nationalist rhetoric caught the imagination of the population.

"If you have one person who criticises, it's OK".

"The question is, do people really want more refugees here? No, never ever", Rutte said". Wilders won 15 seats at the last election.

After voting in The Hague, Prime Minister Mark Rutte addressed camera crews and urged voters to reject Wilders, asking the Dutch public to think about how a Freedom Party win would look.

Last Thursday, an Ipsos survey suggested that VVD could get 26 seats, its coalition partner PvdA could hope for 11, PVV might snag 23 seats and CDA could have 21. Tough coalition talks are now likely to follow, aiming to put in place the next government. The hardline Reformed Political Party appears to have defended its three seats. Far-right movements have taken hold in both countries, which are also set to hold elections this year.

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With as many as 28 parties fielding candidates, it is highly unlikely any party will reach the 76 seats needed for a majority, meaning four or five will need to come together to form a coalition. At that point, he was still projected to win as many as 35 seats. "Be pro-European", Klaver said.


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