After 13 years with Mark Rutte as their prime minister, the Dutch will cast their ballots on Wednesday in a national election that is expected to scatter votes across the spectrum. But there is one man who has emerged as the campaign’s chief protagonist.
It is Pieter Omtzigt, a longtime parliamentarian and founder of a new party, who says he wants to overhaul the Dutch political system from the political center — appealing to voters increasingly disillusioned with the establishment yet wary of extremes.
Mr. Omtzigt, 49, has offered voters a novel mix of left-leaning economic policies and right-leaning migration policies, packaged in a party he created this summer, called New Social Contract.
“It’s a protest party in the political middle,” said Tom Louwerse, a political scientist at Leiden University who created a website that combines and summarizes polls.
Yet it is one that does not pit the elite against the common man in the way populist parties often do, political analysts said. While anti-establishment votes in many European countries have often gone to right-wing parties, Mr. Omtzigt’s presence seems to have provided an alternative to Dutch voters who don’t feel quite at home in the far right.
The Dutch election is shaping up as one of the most significant and competitive in years. It is being held two years ahead of schedule, after Mr. Rutte’s government collapsed in July when the parties in his coalition failed to reach an agreement on migration policy.
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