Dutch government misses Senate majority, say exit polls

Dutch electoral officials count ballots. Photo: 2 March 2011
Image caption Official results of the regional polls are expected shortly

The Dutch centre-right cabinet, backed by an anti-Islam party, is set to fall short of a majority in the Senate after regional polls, exit polls suggest.

They predict that the two government parties and Geert Wilders' Freedom Party would win 35 out of 75 seats.

This could derail the implementation of some of the key policy pledges of the cabinet led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte, analysts warn.

Officials result of the regional polls are expected overnight.

MPs anger

Exit polls suggest that Mr Rutte's Liberal VVD party, the Christian Democrats (CDA) and Mr Wilders' Freedom Party (PVV) will secure 35 seats in the Senate.

If confirmed, this is three short of the majority needed to pass laws through the veto-wielding upper house.

Analysts say the minority government is hoping to win support form some smaller parties, but even this may not be enough to muster a majority.

Mr Rutte's five-month-old cabinet has pledged to ban the full Islamic veil in the country, to impose curbs on immigration and also to implement budget cuts.

However, last year's coalition deal angered some CDA lawmakers who said they would not work with Mr Wilders.

Last year, he went on trial in Amsterdam on charges of inciting hatred with his film Fitna (Division).

The film juxtaposes the Muslim holy book, the Koran, with the 9/11 attacks in which nearly 3,000 people in the US were killed in 2001.

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