Voting begins in three-day Dutch elections dominated by COVID-19 | Political news


Outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s VVD party is expected to garner the most votes, securing him a fourth term.

Three days of voting began in the Netherlands in a parliamentary election seen as a referendum on the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

A record 37 parties present candidates for election, with voting starting Monday. About 13 million voters are eligible to participate.

COVID-19 dominated the election period, with opposition parties criticizing the handling of the health emergency and candidates explaining how they would rebuild the economy when the virus receded.

It is confirmed that more than 16,000 people have died from COVID across the country since the start of the pandemic.

With the ban on public gatherings, the election campaign focused on a series of televised debates in which outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who first took office in 2010 and has since become one of the oldest rulers in Europe, has maintained its image with a firm hand. in times of crisis.

Rutte is generally expected to win the most seats in the 150-seat lower house of parliament and secure a fourth term.

Four polls released this week showed that the 54-year-old conservative People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, or VVD, won 21-26% of the vote, compared to 11-16% for its closest rival, the anti- Islam Freedom by Geert Wilders. Party, which leads the parliamentary opposition.

His government has been in interim mode since January, when he resigned following a scandal involving tax officials seeking to stamp out fraud wrongly targeting families, plunging thousands into debt.

Increase in COVID cases

The first two days of voting are intended for vulnerable groups to be able to vote. People over the age of 70 also have the right to vote by post.

The campaign will continue until Tuesday, ending only on the official election date on Wednesday.

After the vote count from Wednesday evening to Thursday, the process of forming the next ruling coalition will begin.

The vote comes as coronavirus infections increase at the fastest rate in months.

The National Institute of Health (RIVM) has advised against any rapid easing of the lockdown, saying hospitals could still be overwhelmed by a third wave of the pandemic driven by more contagious variants.

Police in The Hague on Sunday broke up a demonstration of thousands protesting the lockdown and a nighttime curfew, the imposition of which sparked several days of riots in January.

An exception to the 9 p.m. curfew will be made for those who do not vote this week.





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