Dutch Local Elections May Show Rutte Cabinet Lost Support

A final estimate from today’s Dutch local elections based on exit polls by Ipsos showed widespread losses for Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s coalition.

Rutte’s Liberals, known as the VVD, dropped to 12.3 percent of the vote compared with 15.6 percent in 2010. Labor, led by Diederik Samsom, lost more than 5 percentage points to 10 percent of the vote, broadcaster NOS reported today, based on the final estimate.

“Based on the first forecasts we can draw two conclusions,” Geert Wilders of the anti-immigrant Freedom Party said in The Hague today. “The first one is that the local parties have won, and second, the governing parties have been hit very hard.”

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.

More than 1,000 local parties took part, so local results don’t directly translate into a national picture. Wilders’s party took part only in local balloting in The Hague and Almere out of the Netherlands’ almost 400 municipalities. The final estimate shows local parties received almost 30 percent of the ballots.

A separate poll today showed the coalition of Liberal and Labor would retain only 42 of their 79 seats in the 150-member lower house if a national election were held now.

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 such slumps since the beginning 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.

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