Incumbent Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende looks set for a comeback in the Netherlands’ general election, according to opinion polls. He has pledged to implement a number of measures including a controversial law banning full-length veils, which has caused uproar among the Muslim community and civil rights groups.
“No, we are looking at a legal possibility to forbid all those clothes that are hiding your face,” he said. The man whose government fell in June over a row on immigration is now reaping the benefits of a booming economy and falling unemployment – a revival he claims is the result of his government’s austerity measures which are now paying off.
Trailing second in the opinion polls are the Social Democrats led by Wouter Bos. He says the government’s welfare cuts have meant the economy has grown at the expense of the poor and the middle classes. But analysts say controversial plans to tax wealthy pensioners and home owners have cost the Social Democrats dearly.
Increasingly seen as a political force to be reckoned with, the Socialist Party led by Jan Marijnissen is in third place in the polls. He said: “The Social Democrats are more of an administrator’s party,” he said, “whereas we are more of a grass-root, people’s party.” The Dutch go to the polls on Wednesday to elect a new parliament. Tune in to EuroNews for exit polls and final results.