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Polls open in Dutch election that is barometer of populism

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The Netherlands' current center-right prime minister Mark Rutte and his leading rival, far-right leader Geert Wilders, both rose in a snap poll published Monday night, after Rutte refused to allow Turkish ministers to enter the Netherlands to campaign for the Turkish expat vote.

Since splitting with the right-wing People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (known by its acronym VVD) in 2004, Wilders has been a consistent figure in Dutch politics, and his Party For Freedom came in third in the 2010 election. Wilders has campaigned on an anti-immigrant platform and called on the country to ban the Koran and close mosques. If it does, with Wilders' help, wash into France and bring Marine Le Pen to victory, it really could spell the end of the euro and possibly the European Union, too.

While Mr Wilders's views have won growing support amid Europe's refugee crisis, numerous pragmatic Dutch still find them unpalatable. It's the first debate Mr.

The two leaders, whose parties are predicted to be the two largest in parliament after Wednesday's vote, stuck to well-worn campaign themes during the debate hosted by TV program EenVandaag.

"You could say these are the quarter finals in trying to prevent the wrong sort of populism to win".

In both the Brexit referendum and the USA election, undecided voters overwhelmingly chose the anti-establishment option.

Gold prices have fallen victim of late to a strong US economy and dollar, with investors forgoing gold due to a lack of demand for a hedge asset or inflation guard in the current economic climate.

The election in the Netherlands comes at a crucial time for Europe, occurring in the aftermath of last year's Brexit vote and with the United Kingdom likely to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to begin its withdrawal from the European Union imminently.

"Just say an anti-EU populist leader won in Holland, it would embolden, no doubt, populist movements certainly in France, and perhaps a little in Germany", said Judy Dempsey, nonresident senior fellow at Carnegie Europe in Brussels.

Regardless of whether Wilders joins the government, however, this election will be significant in terms of the future role of the Netherlands-and indeed Europe-in the world.

It is followed by the right-wing Party for Freedom led by Geert Wilders, which is likely to receive 22 seats, that is, seven seats more than in 2012.

Wednesday's election also comes amid a diplomatic spat between the Netherlands and Turkey.

The Dutch go to the polls today after days of tension with Turkey that set the political scene on fire. The Netherlands' Muslim Turkish population are the target of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is rallying to change his country's constitution in a referendum in April. "About who will govern and who will be the prime minister".

"Even Geert Wilders has mentioned us", said Paulus van Pauwvliet.

The Netherlands has enjoyed solid economic growth in recent years and last year unemployment fell by the most in 10 years.

In one tense exchange, Rutte said it was time to de-escalate the crisis, but Wilders retorted: "We must answer back".

Polls over the months have shown Wilders' party getting a strong momentum in the country.

That is well down from the 40 VVD MPs in the outgoing lower chamber however, and would leave Rutte scrambling to cobble together a viable coalition which may have to include four or five parties to reach the 76-seat majority.

Leiden University analyst Geerten Waling believes the vote will produce "a very divided parliament" and warned: "It's going to be much tougher to form a coalition government, much tougher than before".

On Monday Mr. Rutte acknowledged that many people feel left behind and let down by establishment politicians.

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