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    Dutch Prime Mark Rutte adjusts his glasses during a press conference at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Monday, March 13, 2017

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    A Eurosceptic party ‘Forum for Democracy’ could emerge second following elections in the Netherlands, exit poll data suggests. The ruling coalition, led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s VVD party, expected to weaken position. Sputnik has discussed the elections in the Netherlands with Dutch journalist Joost Niemoller.

    Sputnik: What’s your take on the exit poll results? Were they expected?

    Joost Niemoller: It was expected that it would be big, but it looks now that the Forum for Democracy is actually the biggest party now in the Netherlands and that is something that nobody really expected. It’s a very complicated system what we are talking about, but in actual votes they are the biggest right now. No, this is not expected; and this is something a lot of people are either angry or very happy about.

    Sputnik: And what is the rationale behind the optic of the anti-EU populism in the latest local elections? Is it all down to immigration, or are there other factors and facets that have to be considered here as well?

    Joost Niemoller: No, it’s more than that. The leader, Thierry Baudet, has for the last months done a very strong debate in the Dutch Parliament about this climate change talk, and also the government made a turn to the left and wanted to make new measures for climate change or against climate change. And it means that normal Dutch people have to pay a lot for all those new things which will come up, for example isolating their houses, making new prompts. It’s said officially that the discussion about climate change is over, that the scientists settled etc.; but Thierry Baudet made it very clear that the discussion isn’t over at all, and he was very good with facts about it. So, a lot of people in the Netherlands were beginning to doubt and were thinking whether it is really worth paying so much because costs are rising at the moment for people — energy costs, for example. So, it’s all about that the government said we have to go away with the gas energy and the problem is that everything will be coming out of other sources of energy and it’s forbidden to do it with nuclear energy. So the only things left are wind and solar energy and things like that; and the scientists know that it’s not possible to get good energy from that. So, it will be a total disaster; and this point was made very clear by Thierry Baudet. And you can see in the polls that much more people are convinced that we don’t want to go in that direction.

    Sputnik: Obviously, there’re many factors with regard to why we’ve seen this rising in the population; and, obviously, we’ve had this incident on Monday, the shooting on the tram in Utrecht which has obviously factored in the surge of anti-EU populism. What’s your particular take on the recent surge? Has it all been about this event that happened on the tram, the shooting, or, notwithstanding what you’ve said in the previous answer, this has been underlined for a period of time now?

    Joost Niemoller: Yes, it’s gone on for a long time. It’s official now that the attack in the tram was a terrorist attack; there was a lot of discussion about that before, but that’s now official. That’s been part of discussion because a lot of the other parties said “we stop the campaign for a day”; and Thierry Baudet didn’t want to stop that and lots of people were angry about it. That’s one point. But there has been some research done about the voting and by far most people said it didn’t have an effect on the way they voted; but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t, because people can say that it didn’t have an effect but still it could have an effect. And I think a lot of people are also angry [about] why this person who was on a list and who has been in jail and was set free for no good reasons, why this could happen etc. So, this discussion is a very lively discussion. Personally, I don’t think the effect of this attack is the real reason for the big success of the Forum because, it sounds a bit cynical, but the attack wasn’t big enough. I mean, there were three deaths.

    Sputnik: Just the final question. Mark Rutte’s party is likely to retain its majority in the Senate, although by a smaller majority. What does this say about the society’s support for the party and its policies? And what parties is he likely to team up with to form a ruling coalition? I’ve actually got a quote from Rutte when he is talking about the future makeup of the next government. “We are going to have to get to work,” Rutte told supporters. “We have to talk with other parties so we can continue to lead this country well.” We do know, I mean there’s precedent with hung parliaments in the UK, and Germany, and Italy, when there is a hung parliament and the separate parties controlling the governance of the country, then there sort of begins a malaise in the country in itself; it’s never easy to govern a country because of the limitations of lawmaking. So, this doesn’t look on the face of it a good thing for the future of the Netherlands, does it?

    Joost Niemoller: You are absolutely right about this. The whole way this government will be going through will be very muddy. Firstly, there will be no real direction; and there’s also a problem with Mark Rutte because he is actually the leader of a right-wing party and people who vote for him are pretty angry about this whole new thing about not doing very much about immigration and not doing too much about the climate change cost which will go to the people. And so, this problem will become even worse.

    The views and opinions expressed by the speaker in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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