Voters Cast Ballots on Final Day of Netherlands Election

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On March 17, 2021, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

Voters in the Netherlands are casting ballots Wednesday in the third and final day of the first European national election held during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his ruling People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy are expected to be reelected in voting that observers say is a referendum on the government’s handling of the pandemic.  
 
But Rutte, who is one of Europe’s longest-serving leaders after 10 years in office, saw his popularity slide in recent weeks after implementing an unpopular curfew to fight the spread of the coronavirus. Rutte also resigned in January after his tax officials falsely accused thousands of families of trying to scam childcare services. He is currently serving in a caretaker capacity.
 
Much like last year’s U.S. elections, the Dutch elections have been adapted for the coronavirus pandemic, with early voting for vulnerable people, and seniors allowed to vote by mail.
 
Rutte spoke with reporters Wednesday as he arrived at the polls on his bicycle. He said that as prime minister, he takes responsibility for the government’s pandemic response but said he has not talked as much about what to do next. “So, when we come out of this crisis, how to rebuild our economy and our companies, how to rebuild the health sector.”
 
Polls show Rutte’s VVD party with about 25 percent of the vote, which would give it slightly more than the current 32 of the 150 seats in parliament. His closest rival, far-right anti-immigration lawmaker Geert Wilders, is at about 13 percent.
 
With a record 37 parties taking part in the election, and 17 expected to garner enough votes to win at least one seat in parliament’s 150-seat lower house, forming coalitions in the government will be a tough and lengthy process. After the 2017 elections, coalition talks took seven months.

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