Dutch party leaders vote in many-horse race

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By Alasdair Sandford
Dutch party leaders vote in many-horse race

Most of the attention, as the Dutch went to the polls on election day, has been on the two frontrunners: the centre-right VDD party of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and the far-right Party of Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders, who both voted in The Hague.

However more than two dozen parties are running in the election. Several are targeting a place in a future coalition, with some tipped to play a very influential role.

Jesse Klaver also cast his ballot in The Hague. His small Green Left party is forecast to emerge one of the main groups in parliament.

The 30-year-old son of a Moroccan father and part Indonesian mother struck a very different tone from at least one of his rivals.

“Geert Wilders is losing momentum in the polls. We’re gaining momentum in the polls. And I think that’s the message we have to send to Europe. You can’t stop populism but what I would say to all my left-wing friends in Europe: don’t try to fake the the populace. Stand for your principles. Be straight. Be pro-refugee. Be pro-European,” Klaver said.

The leader of the Liberal Democrats D66 party, Alexander Pechtold, voted in the town of Wageningen near Arnhem.

With a campaign stressing education and jobs, the party is hopeful of achieving the best result in its 50-year history.

Under the Dutch proportional representation system, many parties are set to gain representation in the 150-seat parliament, in a vote described as highly unpredictable.

Dutch election in quotes