ERMELO, Netherlands (AP) — As March 15 parliamentary elections approach in the Netherlands, banners and posters supporting the candidates have popped up everywhere in Dutch cities and villages — on roadsides and street medians, in fields and parks, and at farms and homes.
The entrance of a small campsite that once used to be a farm in the Dutch province of Gelderland features an election banner supporting SGP, the Reformed Political Party. It reads "It is the time for the farmers, vote for Dijkgraaf." But Wim van Nijhuis, the 60-year-old owner of the former farm, will not vote for the SGP — he believes its values are too extreme and says his vote will go to the more moderate Christian Democratic Appeal. He put the banner up because a friend asked him to place it by the entrance facing the main road.
"The difficulty in this election is that you see a huge separation between all the parties," van Nijhuis said. "Most of the Dutch people are not as radical as it appears now in the news, we hope we will get a government with reasonable politicians."
Pollsters are predicting that Prime Minister Mark Rutte's People's Party for Freedom and Democracy will lose about 15 of its 40 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives. Far-right, anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders' Party for Freedom, which currently has 12 lawmakers in the chamber, is on track to become one of the biggest, if not the biggest, parliamentary factions.
However, Wilders' hard-line anti-Islam, anti-immigration platform has driven away potential coalition partners among mainstream parties, meaning that he is unlikely to be able to form a government even if he wins the popular vote.
Muhammed Muheisen is The Associated Press' chief photographer for the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan and a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner.