September 4, 2012 / 7:55 PM / 7 years ago

Dutch Liberals lead, Labour gains in poll

Netherlands' Prime Minister Mark Rutte arrives on the second day of a European Union leaders summit in Brussels June 29, 2012. REUTERS/Eric Vidal

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch voters are shifting back towards pro-European parties, two opinion polls showed on Tuesday, before an election that will decide whether the Netherlands remains an ally of Germany in the fight for euro zone budget discipline.

The two polls, by TNS Nipo and Maurice de Hond, showed the Liberal Party of caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte would win 34 seats in next week’s parliamentary election, making it the largest party in the 150-seat chamber.

In August, a TNS Nipo poll showed the fiscally conservative Liberal Party was neck-and-neck with the hard-left Socialist Party, which wants to see slower spending cuts across Europe.

The Socialists’ poll showing has suffered in recent weeks, with analysts saying leader Emile Roemer was repeatedly upstaged in a series of television debates by Diederik Samsom, leader of the centre-left Labour Party.

The new TNS Nipo poll showed the Socialists taking 28 seats in the September 12 election, just ahead of third-placed Labour with 26 seats. The de Hond poll showed the Socialists and Labour in equal second place with 27 seats each.

Rutte’s previous government collapsed in April after the anti-European, anti-immigrant populist party of Geert Wilders refused to back its plans to cut the budget deficit to 3 percent of GDP, in line with European Union rules.

The Rutte government strongly supported Berlin’s tough line on the need for euro zone members to bring down their budget deficits, despite the effect that austerity is having on many countries’ economies.

The Socialists and Labour both oppose austerity measures and want more time to achieve the EU’s deficit target, but Labour - unlike the Socialists - has supported the government in voting for euro zone bailouts.

Reporting by Sara Webb; editing by David Stamp

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