Dutch voters focused on economy

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Dutch voters focused on economy

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Dutch voters seem poised to break with nearly 100 years of political tradition and vote in a Liberal prime minister.

In a departure from recent elections, which have been dominated by immigration and foreign policy issues, it is the economy and deficit-cutting plans that the public is most focused upon.

On the eve of the poll the leaders had a last chance to put their views across in a televised debate.

Favourite and austerity-minded VVD leader Mark Rutte is expected to win 34 of the 150 seats in the Dutch parliament. But he needs 76 to attain a governing majority.

For the current prime minister, Christian Democrat Jan Peter Balkenende, it looks like the end of the road after eight years in power. His CDA are tipped for just 24 seats.

Labour, or the PVDA, is projected to come second to the Liberals, with 30 seats, after losing some early momentum when Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen replaced the previous leader.

The party of anti-immigration populist Geert Wilders is set to double its tally to around 11.

Even he is putting a monetary figure on his campaign theme suggesting non-western immigrants are too costly for taxpayers.

But even if the Liberals are leading in the polls, Rutte will still have to work with a patchwork of other parties to gain a parliamentary majority.