By Toby Sterling
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) — Top candidates have gone on the offensive in the final days of the Netherlands' national election, with late polls showing Labour leader Frans Timmermans and anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders making gains.
A first-place finish for Timmermans in Wednesday's vote could swing the next government toward the centre and more spending on climate policies, while first place for Wilders could bring a hard-right coalition with a strong anti-immigration line.
Either would mean an upset for Dilan Yesilgoz, caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte's successor as leader of the pro-business VVD Party, who has been the frontrunner for much of the campaign and has a realistic chance of becoming the country's first woman prime minister.
«Ms. Yesilgoz has learned well from Rutte how to deal in hyperbole and half-truths,» Timmermans said in an attack during a debate on Monday in which she criticized his plans, which include increasing the minimum wage and raising taxes.
«We are going to tax millionaires. That's not nice for the millionaires, but that's how you get a more fair country,» said Timmermans, who is leading a combined Labour and Green Left ticket.
Major issues for Dutch voters include how to respond to climate change, the rising cost of living, and a desire to restrict immigration.
The most recent opinion poll published by I&O Research on Monday forecast Yesilgoz's VVD and Timmermans' Labour/Green Left level on 27 seats each in the 150-member Dutch parliament, with Wilders' Freedom Party just behind at 26 seats.
A newly launched centrist reform party known as «New Social Contract» is in fourth place at 21 seats. With 76 seats needed for a majority, lengthy coalition talks look inevitable.
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