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Rutte, Wilders Swap Jibes in Debate Just Before Dutch Vote

  • Premier says again he won’t go into coalition with Wilders
  • Freedom Party leader says Rutte broke previous promises
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The Anti-Islam Populist Who Wants to Run the Netherlands

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Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and populist Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders questioned each other’s credibility and integrity as they faced off on live national television for the first time in the country’s election campaign, just 36 hours before the polls open.

The Liberal premier said he won’t trust Wilders again after the Freedom Party walked away from supporting Rutte’s first minority cabinet in 2012 during an economic crisis. “I’m not going to work with such a party again,” Rutte said at the end of the debate in Rotterdam on Monday evening. “Not in a cabinet, and not even relying on you for support outside the government. No, never ever.”