Dutch PM Begs Voters To Stop Nationalist ‘Domino Effect’

REUTERS/Yves Herman

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte urged voters to reject nationalist candidate Geert Wilders in Wednesday’s general election.

Wilders and Rutte are neck-and-neck in the polls, with two days to go as they battle for undecided voters. Rutte warned the rise of Wilders could trigger a “domino effect” in favor of nationalist parties across Europe.

“I want the Netherlands to be the first country which stops this trend of the wrong sort of populism,” Rutte said at a news conference.

He used sports terminology to describe the rise of populism around the world. The PM considers the election in the Netherlands a “quarter final” and the French presidential election later this spring a “semi final” for the nationalist movement. Germany’s general election in September marked the “final.”

“Remember Brexit. We all thought that could never happen. Remember the U.S. elections,” Rutte said.

The two frontrunners squared off in a heated debate Monday night. Wilders called his opponent the “prime minister of foreigners” and said he will prioritize Dutch citizens.

“We need to chose for our own people, for our own parents, and not for the asylum seekers,” Wilders said. “You are not the prime minister of the Netherlands, but of the foreigners.”

Rutte ruled out cooperating with Wilders’ Freedom Party in a coalition.

“Not in a cabinet, and not even relying on you for support outside the government. No, never ever,” Rutte said.

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