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Far-right Wilders plays anti-Islam card in final debate ahead of Dutch elections

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-03-15 09:34

Far-right Wilders plays anti-Islam card in final debate ahead of Dutch elections

Emile Roemer of Socialist Party (SP) (3L), Geert Wilders of the Freedom Party (PVV) (2L), Marianne Thieme of the parliamentary party Partij voor de Dieren (PvdD) (4L), Dutch Green Party (Groen Links) leader Jesse Klaver (C), Netherland's Prime minister and People's Party for Freedom and Democracy leader Mark Rutte (4R), Lodewijk Asscher of Labour Party (PvdA) (2R), Sybrand Haersma Buma of the Christian Democrats (CDA) (R) pose for a photo after a televised debate between the eight top party leaders in The Hague on March 14, 2017, a day before the parliamentary elections. [Photo/VCG]

THE HAGUE - There remained no clear winner in the final debate on Tuesday, a day before the Dutch elections, but far-right populist Geert Wilders, who played anti-Islam card in the debate, still ranks high in the final run-up to the election.

In the building of the House of Representatives, for which the voters choose the 150 seats on Wednesday, the leaders of the eight largest parties debated with each party bringing in one statement.

The one-member Party for Freedom PVV leader Geert Wilders, second behind the rightist liberal party VVD in the polls, played the anti-Islam card.

"Islam is the greatest threat to the Netherlands," was his statement. "This is the theme where it actually is about in the Netherlands and worldwide. The future of our country is at stake," said Wilders, who has vowed to shut down mosques in his campaign.

Labor party PvdA leader Lodewijk Asscher, facing a possible dramatic fall in seats according to the latest polls, refuted Wilders with his statement "The Netherlands belongs to all of us."

Referring to a remark by Wilders in 2014 that he wanted fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands, Asscher said "Your message is less, less and less...With less you get fewer Netherlands. I will never accept that."

But Wilders, who started his campaign in mid-February by making the notorious "scum" comment about Moroccan migrants, reacted by saying that "The Netherlands does not belong to all of us."

"The Netherlands is for Dutch who have chosen one hundred percent for our country," he added.

According to the latest polls, Wilders' one-member party could garner 15.7 percent of the votes from the Netherlands' 12.7 million voters, making this smallest party the country's second largest party.

Wednesday's parliamentary election sees a total of 28 parties bidding for 150 seats in the lower house.

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