Five months after the last government collapsed, Dutch voters go to the polls on Wednesday in a race most pundits say is too close to call.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s failure to push through austerity measures led to the new election.
The nation which was once one of the biggest cheerleaders for closer European integration is suddenly divided.
Rutte’s Liberal party is neck and neck with Labour despite similar policies towards Europe.
It is no secret that Geert Wilders – the controversial far-right Freedom party leader – advocates a Dutch exit from the union.
Bike repairer Frans van der Meer is one of his voters:
“Brussels pulls all the strings! They meddle in other countries affairs and they allow more and more countries into the union. But half of them are bankrupt. And we have to work even harder for those people who those who can’t keep up. At the end of the day, all the money comes from the people who are working!”
Whichever party edges ahead will almost certainly get to name the prime minister. The winner will potentially need several coalition partners and that is likely to take months to negotiate.
Olaf Bruns, our correspondent in Amsterdam says:
“Even if the centrist parties are tied in the polls, eurosceptic parties like the Socialists and Wilders far right ‘Freedom party’ are expected to gain between a quarter and a third of the seats between them. They’re expressing an anger over Europe that any future government would be foolish to ignore.”