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Austerity measures dominate Dutch election

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Austerity measures dominate Dutch election


People in The Netherlands are voting in parliamentary elections dominated by economic concerns.

Fiscal austerity has been the main talking point and the Liberal party headed by Mark Rutte looks set to win the most votes.

The Liberals have been pushing for steep budget cuts, a pared-down government and a reduction in benefits for immigrants.

But the Liberals likely margin of victory is expected to force it into coalition talks with Job Cohen’s Labour party which is projected to come second.

It lost some early momentum when the Amsterdam mayor replaced Labour’s previous leader Wouter Bos.

The Freedom Party of anti-immigration populist Geert Wilders is set to double its seats meaning he could make-or-break any new centre-right coalition.

Wilders, a controversial figure known internationally, has repeatedly denounced Islam and wants a tax on the wearing of headscarves.

It is all-up-in-the-air but the vote does seem certain to end the eight-year tenure of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende.

His Christian Democrats had governed in coalition with the Labour Party before this year’s collapse over the country’s military role in Afghanistan.

Since then, the political agenda has been overtaken by events in the financial world.

The Dutch economy is one of the most stable in Europe – but its borrowing costs have edged higher amid fears over its ability to pay back loans.

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