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Dutch Prime Minister Urges Voters To Reject Far-Right Candidate


Voters in the Netherlands go to the polls tomorrow. It's an election that's being watched across Europe and around the world, primarily because of one man. His name is Geert Wilders. He's made a name for himself by railing against immigrants from Muslim majority countries. And his party is challenging the governing coalition of the prime minister. That prime minister, Mark Rutte, is urging voters to reject Wilders. They were on a televised debate last night. And Wilders called Rutte prime minister of foreigners. NPR's Frank Langfitt reports from Amsterdam.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Citing the United Kingdom's vote to leave European Union and the Trump victory, Rutte said Dutch voters should set an example for Europe ahead of crucial elections in France and Germany. Quote, "this is a chance for the Netherlands to stop the domino effect of populism," Rutte said at a press conference yesterday in Rotterdam. Deveny van Setten is a student who lives in the city of Gouda. Van Setten, who's 20, says the swing to populism last year in the U.S. initially helped Wilders.

DEVENY VAN SETTEN: The fact that America chose Trump may trigger a lot of Dutch people to think that choosing Wilders, for example, will be the thing that changes the Netherlands.

LANGFITT: But Wilder's policies, which include closing mosques and banning the Quran, repel many voters like van Setten.

VAN SETTEN: So I actually really hope that the people of the Netherlands choose the safe option.

LANGFITT: What is the safe option?

VAN SETTEN: Well, everything except Wilders actually (laughter).

LANGFITT: Some Dutch analysts think Wilders may fizzle at the ballot box tomorrow. After leading in the polls, he's slipped behind Rutte's ruling Liberal Party. Frank Langfitt, NPR News, Amsterdam. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Frank Langfitt is NPR's London correspondent. He covers the UK and Ireland, as well as stories elsewhere in Europe.
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