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Eurosceptics surge ahead in Italy and Holland as anti-EU parties set to WIN elections

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Dutch populist leader Geert Wilders looks set to score a crushing victory over the ruling conservatives after his party opened up a commanding eight-point lead.

And the anti-euro Five Star Movement, which endured a farcical week after dallying with the liberals in the EU parliament, emerged from its fiasco unscathed to take a slender advantage over the sitting socialists.

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The Netherlands is set to hold its next general election in March – just a month before the French presidential contest – and Mr Wilders, who has openly called for the end of the EU, is set to win comfortably.

His Party for Freedom is polling at 23 per cent, well ahead of prime minister Mark Rutte’s conservatives People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, on 15 per cent, meaning it will be the largest single party in parliament.

However, a number of other parties including Mr Rutte’s have categorically ruled out working with bombastic Mr Wilders, leading the politician to brand the PM a “dictator” and raising the possibility of a constitutional crisis in the country.

And in Italy, which will have to hold an election by the end of 2018 after leader Matteo Renzi was ousted in a referendum last month, the anti-euro Five Star Movement has maintained its slender lead at the top of the polls.

The anti-establishment movement is attracting 31 per cent of the vote, one point ahead of the ruling socialists, according to the most recent poll published in the country.

Last week the party, led by former comedian Beppe Grillo, endured a torrid time as its attempted defection from the eurosceptic group in the EU parliament led by Ukip fell apart.

Five Star had been courted by liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt, who wanted their votes for his campaign to become EU Parliament president, but both sides ended up getting burnt by the botched deal.

But perhaps most surprising was a surge in support for embattled Angela Merkel, who has recovered slightly after performing a number of significant U-turns over her open door migration policies to shore up her crumbling reputation.

The Chancellor endured a tough time in the polls in the immediate aftermath to last month’s Berlin terror attack, which was carried out by a failed Tunisian asylum seeker.

Her popularity has now recovered to its historic levels, with German voters seemingly opting not to blame her asylum policies for the Islamist terror threat facing the country.

An average of three polls released over the weekend show Mrs Merkel’s ruling coalition between the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU) has climbed to 35 per cent support.

The other gainer over the last couple of weeks has been the anti-migrants, eurosceptic Alternative Fur Deutschland (AfD) which is now attracting about 14 per cent of the vote.

The results are a far-cry from opinion polls in October which showed Mrs Merkel’s support had dipped below 30 per cent for the first time amid chaos and recriminations over her migration policy.

And they will likely herald further tough announcements on immigration with recent policy announcements, including a planned speeding up of deportations and a ban on the burka, seemingly playing well with German voters.

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