Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has reminded eurosceptic voters in today’s parliamentary election that his Liberal party is the one most committed to fiscal discipline.
Weeks of campaigning has affirmed the Netherlands’ own need for deep austerity, while still coughing up billions to bailout its indebted European neighbours.
“There is a real choice in this election. Also in Europe, will we continue with our close relationship with Germany and Finland in fighting the euro crisis or will it make a shift towards a more France-oriented Europe which I will be against?” said Rutte.
The Social Democratic Labour party is seen as Rutte’s main challenger. Its leader Diederik Samsom has promised to put jobs first and slow down spending cuts.
“It’s up to the voters to decide how many seats I get. We will see. It’s an exciting day,” he said as he voted on Wednesday morning.
Much of the eurosceptic sentiment has come from the Socialists who until last month were leading the polls. They are still expected to double their showing in the 150-seat parliament.
The extreme-right wing candidate Geert Wilders seems to have lost ground.
His Freedom Party – which had promised to vote with the last coalition – caused the coalition’s collapse in April in a row over budget cuts.
Following today’s vote which sees the Liberals and Labour neck and neck, a new pro-European
coalition is likely to take weeks or months to be decided.