The Dutch vote in local elections today with opinion polls suggesting widespread losses for Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s coalition and a change of power in Amsterdam for the first time since World War II.
Rutte’s Liberals, known as the VVD, and the Labor Party, led by Diederik Samsom, might lose 44 of their 79 seats in the lower house of parliament if national elections were held today, according to a poll published March 16 by Peil.nl. Geert Wilders’s anti-immigrant Freedom Party would become the biggest party in the 150-member chamber with 27 seats.
The popularity of Rutte’s government has plunged since it won power in 2012. Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem announced 6 billion euros ($8.3 billion) of austerity measures last year on top of a previous 16 billion-euro package.
“Despite national parties attempts to achieve a good result in the forthcoming elections, it looks at the moment as if they’re going to lose,” Jeroen Kester, a pollster at Ipsos in Amsterdam, said in a website post. “Local parties on the other hand, look to be the winners.”
More than 1,000 local parties are taking part in the elections, so national poll findings won’t translate straightforwardly into local results. Wilders’s party is only taking part in local balloting in The Hague and Almere out of the Netherlands’ almost 400 municipalities.
Labor may lose its status as the largest political party in the biggest city, Amsterdam, for the first time since 1946 to the D66 party, according to a poll by the city’s statistics bureau.
“I don’t know why there is such a negative view in Amsterdam,” Dijsselbloem, a member of the Labor Party, told students in the city two days ago. “The city came through the financial crisis very well.”
The Dutch economy, the fifth-largest in the euro area, emerged from a year of recession in the third quarter as exports benefited from a nascent recovery in the currency region. The country has gone through three recessions since the origins of the global financial crisis in 2007.
While the economy is forecast to grow 0.75 percent this year and 1.25 percent in 2015, unemployment is set to reduce only gradually from 7.25 percent in 2014 to 7 percent in 2015, the Central Planning Bureau said yesterday.
The Peil.nl poll was based on at least 2,500 interviews. The dates of the survey and margin of error weren’t specified.
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