THE HAGUE, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- The Netherlands will go to the polls on Wednesday to elect a new Parliament and its first new prime minister in more than ten years.
Since 2010, Mark Rutte has held the post of prime minister. Having served four terms, he announced his departure from politics after his government collapsed in July this year following the coalition parties' failure to agree on measures to limit the influx of asylum seekers.
Rutte's last cabinet consisted of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), the Democrats 66 (D66) and the smaller Christian Union (CU).
Dilan Yesilgoz-Zegerius succeeded Rutte at the head of the VVD. She was minister of justice in Rutte's last cabinet.
The VVD was not the only party to change leaders. Former European Commissioner Frans Timmermans was elected leader of the PvdA-GroenLinks.
Rob Jetten, outgoing minister for climate and energy policy, succeeded former Deputy Prime Minister Sigrid Kaag as D66 leader, and the CDA's new leader is Henri Bontenbal.
The above parties got serious competition from the New Social Contract (NSC) party. It is led by Pieter Omtzigt, a Dutch Christian Democrat member of Parliament for 18 years who received praise and popularity for his role in bringing attention to the childcare benefits tax scandal, which caused the fall of the third Rutte government.
According to the latest polls conducted by Peilingwijzer and cited by national broadcaster NOS, the election race promises to remain tight and the final result is hard to predict. The VVD, the largest party in the previous four elections under Rutte, are on top with 26 to 30 seats. The Party for Freedom (PVV) of Geert Wilders rose to 22 to 28 parliamentary seats in the past week.
Omtzigt's NSC dropped to 19 to 25 seats, and the PvdA-GroenLinks alliance is projected to win 21 to 25 seats. ■