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Close call expected in Netherlands election

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Close call expected in Netherlands election


Voters in the Netherlands go to the polls today, in a general election so closely contested, it could lead to weeks of political horse-trading. Up to 40 percent of voters remain undecided, meaning the result could prove to be a surprise. Neither right nor left are thought to be on target to win the 76 seats needed for an absolute majority in the 150-strong House.

Polls suggest that Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende’s ruling Christian Democrats are slightly in the lead. The centre-right CDA claim to have overseen an economic turnaround after a period of stagnant performance. The country is on target for growth of three percent this year and next.

But Labour Party chief Wouter Bos claims the new prosperity comes at the expense of more deprived communities. Research claims to show that Labour are closing the gap, boosted by a decisive win over the CDA coalition in last March’s local elections and controversy over Iraq.

Analysts say the Socialist Party could squeeze in, in second place, although they are known to be less in favour of forming a coalition with the ruling CDA than their Labour rivals.

Experts say the immigration issue has been of less significance to voters in this poll. The mainstream parties have toughened their stance on the issue, thereby undermining support for the far-right in the polls.

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