THE HAGUE (AFP) – The Netherlands began three days of voting Monday in one of the first major tests of a European government’s coronavirus policies, with Prime Minister Mark Rutte expected to win another term in office.
With the country under its tightest Covid-19 restrictions including an overnight curfew, polling stations opened at 7:30 am (0630 GMT) mainly for at-risk people on Monday and Tuesday before the main election day on Wednesday.
A trickle of people could be seen voting at a polling station in the miniature theme park Madurodam in The Hague after it opened its doors, an AFP journalist said.
Police used water cannon to break up anti-Rutte protests on the eve of voting, and riots against the introduction of the country’s first curfew since World War II rocked the Netherlands in January.
But Rutte — in power since 2010 and one of Europe’s longest serving leaders — is expected to emerge as head of his fourth coalition government owing to his steady handling of the pandemic.
It has drowned out previously dominant issues such as immigration, and opinion polls show Rutte’s liberal VVD (People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy) party with around 25 percent of the vote