Prime minister Mark Rutte has clashed with his anti-Islam rival Geert Wilders in a live TV debate ahead on this Wednesday’s Dutch election.
During the feisty face off, which was played out in the shadow of the diplomatic row with Turkey, Rutte warned voters not to succumb to populism. One Wilders key pledges is to take the Netherlands out of the EU.
“You want ‘Nexit’. You want the Netherlands out of Europe. You know this will cost 1.5 million jobs. That would mean chaos for the Netherlands. In England (Britain), there’s chaos too now, because of Brexit. You want to push the Netherlands into chaos too. Don’t do it. I sincerely hope you’re not going to be the biggest (party), that you won’t form a cabinet, I will put up a tough fight. Don’t do it. It’s the worst news the Netherlands can have now,” Rutte said.
Accusing Rutte of being taken hostage by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Wilders hit back on the question of pulling out of Europe
“Nexit is the best thing that could happen. We’d become bosses of our country again. Once again we’d get the keys to our own front door. How many people at home would find it unpleasant not to have the keys to their own homes so they can see which guests they let in and which they don’t? And we have calculated this seriously Mr Rutte (Rutte saying: “I’ve seen it”) by an agency which has won prizes, and what is the case? Our economy would grow, we would get more purchasing power, and there would be more jobs”
Wilders, who has said he is on a mission to stop the Islamisation of the country, has also promised to shut mosques and ban the Koran.
Some polls suggest his Freedom party could take the most seats in the Dutch parliament, though other parties have already ruled out forming a coalition with Wilders.