Dutch Liberals lead in polls ahead of September 12 vote

Reuters News

8/29/2012 12:13:35 PM - Reuters News

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's Liberal Party has pulled ahead of the Socialist Party two weeks before an election that is being dominated by the euro zone crisis, a second opinion poll in as many days showed on Wednesday.

A poll published by television show Een Vandaag projected the Liberal Party would win 33 seats in the 150-seat parliament in the September 12 vote, while the Socialist Party would secure 30 seats.

A week ago, the same poll put the Socialists with 38 seats, ahead of the Liberals with 35 seats.

A poll on Tuesday by TNS Nipo showed the Liberal Party had taken the lead for the first time since July 10. The polling agency said Rutte had probably been helped by his performance in a televised debate on Sunday.

While the fiscally conservative Netherlands is considered a core euro zone member, the run-up to the election has highlighted growing discontent among voters over Europe - in particular over the high cost of bailing out weaker euro zone states and the pressure for belt-tightening at home.

Rutte's Liberal Party and its coalition partner, the Christian Democrats, have pushed for spending cuts to bring the Netherlands' budget deficit below 3 percent of economic output by 2013, in line with European rules.

The Socialist Party and Labour Party both oppose austerity measures and want more time to achieve the EU's deficit target, while Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-immigration Freedom Party, wants the Netherlands to quit the euro and the EU.

Whichever party wins the most seats would need to form a coalition with several other parties, with talks expected to take weeks, if not months.

(Reporting by Sara Webb; Editing by Susan Fenton)