Dutch election dominated by the economy

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Dutch election dominated by the economy

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Dutch voters are going to the polls in an election dominated by fears over the economy.

The last government collapsed in March over the country’s military role in Afghanistan and, 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 polls show people are still worried.

The free market, liberal VVD party, headed by Mark Rutte, looks set to become the largest single party in parliament.

It is pushing for steep budget cuts, a pared-down government and a reduction in benefits for immigrants.

But the Liberals may need to team up with two other parties to clinch a majority. This could be where the Labour Party led by former Mayor of Amsterdam Job Cohen comes in.

It’s all-up-in-the-air but today’s vote does seem certain to end the eight year tenure of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende whose Christian Democrats had governed in coalition with the Labour Party before this year’s collapse.

The Freedom Party, led by Geert Wilders, looks set to increase its representation in parliament, 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.