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Dutch pro-European parties sweep vote

Latest update : 2012-09-13

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte emerged victorious in the country’s tightly contested parliamentary elections on Thursday, after voters in the Netherlands handed pro-European parties an overwhelming win.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte won in a close race after voters in the Netherlands backed pro-European parties, dispelling fears that more extreme groups and eurosceptics were gaining ground in the eurozone country.

With nearly all of the votes counted, Rutte’s centre-right Liberals have secured 41 seats in the 150-member lower house, giving them a slight edge over the centre-left Labour Party, which won 39 seats as of Thursday morning.

Speaking to supporters after Labour leader Diederik Samsom conceded defeat, Rutte said the vote was his party’s “greatest victory in history”.

“We fought this election house by house, street by street, city by city, and I’m proud. Tomorrow I will take the first steps leading to the formation of a cabinet”, Rutte said.

Coalition partner?

Although political observers have pointed out that a coalition government between Labour and Rutte’s party is probable, the new prime minister has thus far dodged the issue.

Wednesday’s election was called after the previous government collapsed due to disagreements over an austerity-busting budget necessary for eurozone deficit rules. Opinion pollsters had predicted a tight race between the Rutte’s centre-right Liberals and the Labour party.

The export-dependent Netherlands is a founding member of the EU and has long been a staunch supporter of the bloc’s open market. But many Dutch voters have begun questioning their role in the now 27-nation EU since the debt crisis erupted in 2009, feeling that they are paying too high a price to help bail out countries like Greece and Portugal.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2012-09-12

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