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Netherlands election polls: Geert Wilders’ popularity on the rise – LATEST POLLS

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The 2021 Dutch general election will see voters hit the polls to elect 150 members of the House of Representatives. But election experts have warned coronavirus has “taken the wind out of Dutch politics”. The latest polls reveal the Dutch Prime Minister’s lead is beginning to erode following the child welfare scandal which prompted Mark Rutte’s Cabinet to resign in January.

The Netherlands will hold a three-day general election this month.

The incumbent Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has spent a decade in office.

His popularity has remained high amid the run-up to the election but has shown a downward trend in the past few days.

The Dutch Cabinet is led by Mr Rutte, who presides over a coalition Government made up of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, Christian Democratic Appeal, Democrats 66 and the Christian Union.

Mr Rutte’s Cabinet resigned in January after families were wrongly accused of child welfare fraud.

These families were told they had to repay the money given to them and MPs said families had suffered an “unparalleled wrong”.

Many of those affected were from an immigrant background and hundreds were plunged into financial difficulty.

Speaking to reporters about the resignation, Mr Rutte told reporters: “Innocent people have been criminalised and their lives ruined. The buck stops here.”

The six-party leaders took part in the first televised debate of the general election on Monday.

The two-hour event on RTL was broken down into a series of five themed debates in issues, with each started with a party leader being confronted by a member of the public.

Mr Rutte was grilled by a victim of the child benefit scandal, who accused him of ducking responsibility for the tax office’s aggressive pursuit of thousands of working families who were wrongly accused and forced to repay child support.

While Mr Rutte’s leading opponent Geert Wilders, from the anti-immigration Party for Freedom (PVV), was questioned about his party manifesto and whether it disenfranchised people who have two passports.

He claimed he is concerned about Dutch Muslims Sharia law over the constitution and said “Moroccan youths” were responsible for a high proportion of crime.

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A party needs 76 in total to win a majority, but no party is predicted to win this number of seats according to polls.

In total, there are a record 37 groups registered to take part in the election, indicating the fragmentation inherent in the Dutch political landscape.

This could make forming a coalition more difficult than ever.

The latest polls reveal Mr Rutte’s liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy VVD party is still performing best out of all parties.

The latest poll was published on February 28, showing VVD is likely to win 33 seats, closely followed by PVV winning 24 seats.

The Christian Democratic Appeal is due to win 19 seats according to the poll from Peil.nl, with Democrats 66 (D66) and the Labour Party (PvdA) due to win 13 and 12 seats respectively.

Polls show Mr Rutte’s party remaining in the lead, but compared his popularity has eroded amid the child benefit scandal.

Political science professor Tom van der Meer of Amsterdam University told ABC: “The popularity of Mark Rutte … got a big boost last year due to the COVID-19 crisis.”

This poll shows the lowest number of projected seats for Mr Rutte’s party since the last Peil.nl poll published on January 10.

Previous polls from Kantar Public, Peil.nl, Ipsos and I&O Research showed Mr Rutte’s VVD winning 40, 34, 38 and 39 seats respectively.

Comparatively, Mr Wilders’ PVV was shown to win 17, 23, 22 and 19 seats respectively.

The popularity of the CDA in the polls also alters in respect of VVD’s popularity with the latest polls showing the party winning 15, 13, 15 and 14 seats in each of the aforementioned polls.

The latest projections from POLITICO’s Poll of Polls as of March 2 finds VVD is due to win 25 percent of the vote.

PVV is due to get 14 percent, compared to CDA’s 12 percent.

The remaining breakdown is as follows:

  • Democrats 66 (D66): 9 percent
  • Labour Party (PvdA): 8 percent
  • GroenLinks (GL): 8 percent
  • Socialist Party (SP): 6 percent
  • Party for the Animals (PvdD): 4 percent
  • Chrisitan Union (CU): 4 percent
  • Forum for Democracy (FvD): 3 percent
  • Reformed Political Party (SGP): 2 percent
  • DENK (DENK): 2 percent
  • 50PLUS (50+): 1 percent
  • JA21 (JA21): 1 percent
  • Volt Netherlands (Volt) 1 percent
  • BIJ1 (BIJ1): 1 percent.

Some 18 percent of the 13.2 million people eligible to vote in the general election are over the age of 70 and can do so by post, national statistics agency CBS said on Tuesday.

Postal voting has been extended to the over 70s this year because of coronavirus.

In total, 93 percent of the population over the age of 18 can vote, including 70 percent of those with “foreign” roots.

Almost everyone with at least one parent born in the Netherlands has the right to vote on March 17.

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