There were so many people determined on Saturday to snap a selfie with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte that the leader finally promised: “Everyone gets a photo.”
Mr. Rutte, who is head of the center-right Liberal party, had already spent three-quarters of an hour standing in a shopping center in the Dutch town of Barendrecht. These days however, every vote counts – perhaps more than ever before.
Mr. Rutte’s visit to the town just south of port city Rotterdam was part of a final spurt in this year’s Dutch election campaign. On March 15, the Dutch will vote for a new parliament, marking 2017’s first general election in Europe. France will choose a new president in two rounds of voting in April and May, while Germany’s elections will take place on September 24.
For many, the Dutch election is a litmus test on how far Europe could shift to the right, and whether the populist, anti-European political parties have any chance to lead. Britain’s vote last June to leave the European Union and the election of U.S. President Donald Trump have been serious causes for concern in many European capitals, not the least for Brussels, where the E.U. parliament and executive body, the European Commission, are both seated.