The gap is closing in the opinion polls ahead of Wednesday’s Dutch general election. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende’s ruling coalition is predicted a second term in office although with two fewer parliamentary seats. The latest poll comes a day after the government agreed plans to ban muslim women from wearing burkas and veils in public.
The opposition Labour Party led by Wouter Bos has gained seats and is just seven behind according to one poll. Bos has promised a softer approach to immigration and integration. It was immigration policy that forced Balkenende to call an election six months early, although until now the issue has remained on the campaign backburner.
But the recent ban has provoked different opinions on the street. “Burkas should be banned,” says one lady. “It doesn’t belong in our country. It’s all becoming a bit too strange.” Another man disagrees, saying “You don’t see them often. The ban is making a problem out of something that really isn’t” The issue may not swing the election but with seats up for grabs, some analysts say it may swing some votes.