Attention is beginning to focus on elections due to take place in three separate European countries in 2017. The outcomes in the Netherlands, France and Germany will determine the likely future of the European Union (EU).
In the Netherlands, on March 15, all 150 members of the country’s House of Representatives will face the ballot box. The nation is currently led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose VVD party holds 40 seats in the legislative chamber, ruling in a coalition with the Dutch Labour party, which holds 35 seats.
In contrast, the Party for Freedom – Partij Voor de Vrijheid (PVV) – led by Geert Wilders, currently holds 12 seats.
According to an opinion poll, issued on December 21, Wilders’s party has leapt to 24% in the polls, while Rutte’s party has slid to 15%. Were an election to happen now, this would translate to 23 MPs for Rutte’s VVD, and 36 MPs for Wilders’s PVV.
Given the strict formula of proportional representation in the Netherlands, however, coalition governments are the norm. Should Wilders’s PVV come first in March, he will likely need to negotiate with one of his staunchest critics to form a government.
In France, two rounds of voting in the presidential elections are set to take place on April 23 and May 7 – with the two leading candidates from the first round facing each other in a runoff in the second round.
The most likely candidates to make it through to the second round, François Fillon, of the centre-right Les Républicains, and Marine Le Pen, of the populist Front National, remain tied in first-round polling.
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