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"Close race" predicted in Netherlands election

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"Close race" predicted in Netherlands election


Voters go to the polls in the Netherlands general election tomorrow, with politicians hoping the “feel-good” factor may work in their favour. After a turbulent period of racial tension and EU conflict, the country is on-target for an economic growth of 3 percent this year and next. The centre-right government of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende claims to have overseen the turnaround after bringing in unpopular austerity measures. Latest polls suggest Balkenende’s Christian Democrats have a comfortable lead of up to ten seats over their closest rivals, the Labour Party, in the 150 seat Parliament.

However, Labour’s Wouter Bos is hoping to close the gap. The government’s admission that Dutch troops could be implicated in the torture of detainees in Iraq along with a ban on the wearing of veils in public could persuade the sizeable immigrant vote. It is thought gains would at the very least allow Labour to join a “grand coalition”.

But research suggests that voters unhappy with the austerity measures brought in by Balkenende may turn to Jan Marijnissen’s Socialist Party instead. They are known to be less keen on the idea of a coalition with the CDA.

Latest estimations show that while a CDA-Liberal coalition would poll slightly fewer seats than a Labour, Socialist and Green alliance, Balkenende would still be asked to form a government as head of the largest single party. However, analysts estimate that up to 40 percent of the Netherlands’ twelve million voters remain undecided a day ahead of going to the polls.

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