Anti-immigrant populists appear to fall short in Dutch election

Anti-immigrant populists appear to fall short in Dutch election

Anti-immigrant populists appear to fall short in Dutch election

2016 was a tempestuous year with the unexpected decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union following its referendum and the election of Donald Trump as president of the USA.

While the perceived political risk in Europe is probably the main reason European equities are trading on such a large discount to their USA peers, markets aren't paying as much attention to the Dutch elections as the media have in recent days.

The race has been bitter and divisive with immigration dominating the discourse. Do people want more globalization? As Dutch newspaper Volkskrant put it: "The prime minister is now expecting a defeat which can be celebrated as a victory".

"The Netherlands belongs to all of us, and everyone who does his best", he said. "The Netherlands is not for everyone, the Netherlands is for the Dutch." .

The final opinion polls showed the centre-right VVD of Prime Minister Mark Rutte slightly ahead by three percentage points of his nearest rival, Geert Wilders of the far-right Party for Freedom.

About 12.9 million people in the Netherlands are eligible to cast their ballot, with voting booths open until 9pm local time (4am today, Singapore time), when an exit poll is to be released.

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"I think the rest of the world will then see that after Brexit, after the American elections, again the wrong sort of populism has won the day", he said in response to the idea of Wilders winning the election.

In total, six parties are forecast to get more than 10 per cent of the vote but none are set to receive more than 20 per cent, according to most polls, which is likely to mean months of complex negotiations over forming a Netherlands government.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hurled a new round of abuse at The Netherlands on Wednesday, accusing the country of massacring over 8,000 Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995.

Henk Krol, of 50Plus, exclaimed, "We have doubled up!" in reference to his party adding two seats to its two existing seats in parliament.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is tipped to win a fourth term at her country's September election, but is expected to lose seats as the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany Party (AfD) has surged in the polls.

Sky's Europe Correspondent Mark Stone said: "With the exit polls as they are, Geert Wilders has failed to do what many suspected he might be able to achieve which was to win the most seats in the Dutch parliament". The Dutch are ruled by coalition and it is highly unlikely that the Freedom party could form a government even if they were the largest party since other political groupings have ruled out joining them in government.

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