Netherlands votes in local elections

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The Hague, March 21 (IANS) Dutch voters headed to the polls on Wednesday to elect council members for 335 municipalities while far-right parties sought to take advantage of the country’s political division.

The electoral campaign focused on Islam, refugees and social policies concerning immigration, with two populist politicians stirring controversy: leader of the far-right Party of Freedom Geert Wilders and leader of Forum for Democracy Thierry Baudet, Efe news reported.

During an electoral debate held on Tuesday night, Wilders said refugees had more rights than Dutch citizens, making the latter second-class citizens.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, meanwhile, said refugees could remain in the Netherlands, but would not necessarily have access to social housing due to long waiting lists that included other cases.

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The Dutch were also voting in an advisory referendum on whether or not to introduce a new law that would give intelligence services greater powers when it came to monitoring communications over the Internet.

–IANS

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