World Bulletin / News Desk
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Sunday again ruled out any chance of working with Geert Wilders, as the far-right Member of Parliament (MP) insisted he could not be ignored if he wins next month's general election.
"Zero percent. Geert. ZERO percent. That. Will not. Happen," Rutte said in a Tweet on his private account, which has been dormant for six years.
Tensions are heating up as campaigning begins in earnest for the March 15 vote -- the first in a series of elections including in France and Germany which could shake up Europe's political landscape.
Rutte has already said he would not form a coalition with his bouffant-haired adversary.
But Wilders said he did not believe the pragmatic Rutte, despite what he might be saying now.
"You can't just push aside 2.5 million voters ... after democratic elections," he told the WNL OP Zondag television programme.
"That would not be seen very positively and would lead to such an unstable political assembly... that inside of a year it would collapse, to put it bluntly."
Rutte is bidding for a third term as prime minister but his Liberal party (VVD) has been pushed into second place in the polls, with his current coalition partner the Labour Party left trailing in fifth or even sixth place.
New polls on Sunday appeared to suggest the gap may be narrowing, with Dutch voters warily eyeing events in the US after Donald Trump's victory.
According to respected pollster Maurice de Hond, the Freedom Party would win 30 seats if the vote was held today, with Rutte's party gaining 24 -- a difference of six seats instead of nine last week.
"After Trump's election, the PVV got a boost. But the survey today shows that 25 percent of PVV voters are reacting negatively to the measures taken by President Trump," de Hond said in a statement.
Some 28 parties are running in the elections, and most experts believe a four or five-party coalition may have to be to cobbled together for the required 76-seat majority. Tough negotiations between parties could last weeks after the vote.