World Bulletin / News Desk
Far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders was topping the polls on Monday ahead of March elections, a new survey said, appearing to have been boosted by his ongoing hate-speech trial.
That would make his Freedom Party (PVV) the largest group in parliament, pushing the Liberal Party of Prime Minister Mark Rutte into second place with just 25 seats -- well down on the 41 it currently has.
The new weekly poll from respected Dutch pollster Maurice de Hond comes ahead of March elections as support for populist parties in Europe has been on the rise since Donald Trump's victory in the US presidential race.
"The trial of Wilders has ensured that the positive electoral flow towards the PVV since the election of Trump has been further strengthened," said De Hond.
Wilders's PVV party took the lead in the polls late last year amid a polarising debate over how to accommodate the wave of migrants arriving in Europe. It had slipped back to run neck-and-neck with the Liberals in recent months.
But amid a wave of publicity since the October 31 start of Wilders's trial, support has been steadily climbing and the PVV moved back ahead of the Liberals two weeks ago. The Freedom Party currently holds just 12 seats in parliament.
Rutte's Liberals currently govern in a coalition with their junior partner the Labour Party (PvdA) together holding a 75-seat majority. But Sunday's polls showed Labour only keeping 10 seats in the upcoming vote.
Wilders is now awaiting a December 9 verdict having been charged with inciting racial hatred and insulting a racial group. If found guilty of insulting Moroccans during an election rally in 2014, he faces a likely 5,000 euros fine.
But he remained unapologetic when addressing the court last week as the hearings wrapped up, saying he was "not a racist".
The polls come as Austria votes on Sunday in a re-run of disputed presidential elections pitting the leader of the anti-immigration Freedom Party (FPOe) against a contender backed by the Greens.
And in France Francois Fillon has clinched the presidential nomination for the rightwing Republicans ahead of elections in April and May, hoping to fend off a strong challenge from the far-right National Front's leader Marine Le Pen.Last Mod: 28 Kasım 2016, 16:19