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article imageWho's who in Dutch politics

By Maude BRULARD (AFP)     Mar 7, 2017 in Politics

Twenty-eight parties and 1,114 candidates, the highest number since World War II, will compete in the Dutch elections on March 15, chasing 150 seats in the lower house of parliament.

In this system of proportional representation, even the smallest parties can play an outsize role as kingmakers in building a 76-seat majority.

Here is a guide for navigating the alphabet soup of Dutch politics:

- Mark Rutte's VVD -

Liberal party. Led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy leans towards the right on the economy but is more progressive on social issues. Founded in 1948, it has been the ruling coalition partner in two successive governments since 2010. Rutte is vying for a third term as premier, but has vowed not to work with anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders.

Campaign theme: "Act. Normally." Despite positioning itself as the party of the status quo, Rutte has hardened his tone and recently told immigrants they should respect the country's norms "or leave".

Poll position: 1st, with 23-27 seats

- Geert Wilders' PVV -

Far-right, anti-Islam, anti-EU. Led by outspoken MP Geert Wilders, known for his blonde bouffant hair. With his Freedom Party (PVV) topping the polls he is eyeing the premiership but many say they will not work with him. Campaign theme: "Reclaim The Netherlands For Us". He has vowed to bar Muslim immigrants, close mosques, ban sales of the Koran and quit the EU.

The party is officially an association with just one member -- Wilders.

Poll position: 2nd, with 21-25 seats

- The CDA -

The centrist Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), now led by Sybrand Buma, was founded in 1980. It has long held an important place in Dutch politics but as the country has become more secular, support has waned. Campaign slogan: "Choice for a better Netherlands". Its themes revolve around a strong society and the family.

Poll position: 3rd, with 18-20 seats

- The D66 -

Progressive and pro-European, D66, led by Alexander Pechthold is the Democracy party founded in 1966. Campaign slogan: "Together Stronger. Chances for Everyone" stressing education and jobs.

Poll position: 4th, with 17-19 seats

- GroenLinks -

Ecologist. Founded in 1990, the "GreenLeft" party is led by Jesse Klaver, at 30 the country's youngest party leader. Amid a certain weariness with traditional politics, it has drawn increasing support, particularly among young voters. Campaign theme: "Time For Change".

Poll position: 5th, with 16-18 seats

- The Socialists -

Founded in 1972, the Socialist Party is anti-EU. Campaign slogan: "Seize the Power". Has called for a fight against poverty, an increase of the minimum wage and the abolition of the European Commission.

Polls position: 6th with 13-15 seats

- The PvdA -

Labour. Founded in 1946, it is the junior party in the outgoing coalition. Campaign slogan: "Forward Together". It has been campaigning on jobs, better housing, health and education. It has sought to reposition itself on the left, but lacks credibility after four years in government.

Poll position: 7th, with 11-13 seats

- And some others... -

SGP: Orthodox Protestant Calvinist, the Reformed Political Party was founded in 1918. It did not admit women members until 2006. Is against abortion and euthanasia. Could win three to five seats.

Christian Union (CU): May also take five to seven seats.

50+: The party for the over 50s. Could boost its seats to between four and six.

Animal Party: founded in 2002, works for animal rights. May take four to six seats.

Denk: Founded in 2015 by immigrants. Drawing increasing support from the Turkish and Moroccan communities. May take up to two seats.

Niet-stemmers: The party of non-voters. Has vowed never to vote in parliament.

FVD: Forum for Democracy, led by eurosceptic Thierry Baudet. Helped initiate last year's referendum against the EU-Ukraine treaty.

Artikel 1: The country's newest party launched in December by black TV presenter Sylvana Simons to fight racism.

Jesus Lives: Evangelist, founded in 2013 and says it lives by the commands of Jesus. Polling figures are from Peilingwijzer, an aggregate of six surveys. mbr/jkb/jhe/ri

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