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2/17/17

Netherlands’ Wilders popularity waning- by Nick Ottens

When Donald Trump won the presidential election in November, Dutch nationalist party leader Geert Wilders hailed it as the beginning of an illiberal reaction that would inspire like-minded movements on the Atlantic's other shore.

But it doesn’t seem to be happening in his home country.

The national broadcaster NOS averaged the polls for the election in March and found that support for Wilders’ Freedom Party has fallen since the end of last year, from a high of 21 percent to 18 percent.

The party, which proposes to take the Netherlands out of the European Union and stop immigration from non-Western countries, could still become the single-largest. But the difference with Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s liberal VVD is now only a few seats.

If this trend continues, Rutte could come out on top, although he is likely anyway to remain in power at the head of a coalition of parties in the centre.

So far Freedom Party voters are not flocking to Rutte, who is closest to Wilders on immigration and security policy but also supports EU membership and free trade. His liberal party is stable at 16-17 percent support.

The question now is: where will they go?

"Lets hope they go to a fresh new face like Jesse Klaver from GroenLinks", said a Dutch farmer in Groningen. 

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