Center-Right Parties Expected to Form Government in Netherlands

TURKEY-REFERENDUM  EUROPE

The vote also comes before national elections in France and Germany, where right-wing candidates are eyeing gains.

Both the CDA and D66 would be natural coalition partners for Rutte, who like most Dutch parties, has refused to work with Wilders.

"I want the Netherlands to be the first country which stops this trend of the wrong sort of populism", Rutte told reporters, ahead of a head-to-head debate clash with his rival anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders.

The row with Turkey stemmed from the government's decision to ban two Turkish ministers from speaking at rallies in Holland because of concerns regarding "risks to public order and security".

As you can see, there are a bewildering number of parties in the Netherlands. "People feel misrepresented", Mr Wilders was quoted as saying by The Associated Press as he cast his vote.

Even if Wilders fails to become prime minister, his candidacy has influenced the tone of the political debate in the Netherlands, with moderate parties adopting elements from the Party of Freedom's agenda.

"This patriotic revolution, whether today or tomorrow, will take place", he said in the capital, The Hague.

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With two days to go until the Dutch vote in a pivotal parliamentary election, pollster Maurice De Hond found that the spat between the Netherlands and Turkey, and Saturday's night of rioting by ethnic Turks in Rotterdam, had benefited the two parties that have been most skeptical on immigration.

The exit polls show incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte staying on top with 31 seats in Dutch legislature, with Wilders increasing his total to 19 seats out of the 150-seat chamber, according to the Associated Press.

If Wilders does win, it will be a challenge to find other parties willing to join him in forming a new coalition government. Tough coalition talks are now likely to follow, aiming to put in place the next government.

"I am hoping for a strong centre" coalition, said Alexander van der Hooft, one of the first voters on Wednesday.

Unlike most polls, the LISS panel also asks voters to give a percentage likelihood of their voting for a given party.

The far-right Marine Le Pen is set to make the second-round run-off of France's presidential election in May.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is tipped to win a fourth term at her country's September election, but is expected to lose seats as the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany Party (AfD) has surged in the polls. Experts believe that the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, the Christian Democratic Appeal and Democrats 66 will form the core of the new Cabinet, but so far these movements have only 63 out of the required 76 seats.

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