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  1. ITV Report

Geert Wilders insists to lose Dutch elections 'would not be a failure'

As Dutch voters go to the polls in the first of three key eurozone elections, the leader of the anti-immigration Freedom Party says to lose "would not be a failure”.

Geert Wilders told ITV News Europe Editor James Mates his party has “left its mark” on Dutch politics, raising key issues and growing in influence.

“It would really not [be a failure], because I think we’ve put our mark on the elections so far, everyone’s talking about the issues we have had and we have not had so much power over the last five years but our influence grew every day,” he said.

A close result between Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s centre right party and Geert Wilders’ far right party is expected following a wave of populism seen through Brexit and Donald Trump's election.

Geert Wilders casts his vote at a polling station in The Hague. Credit: PA Images

Mr Wilders, who has been labelled by some as “Holland’s Donald Trump” has dominated the campaign trail with his controversial right-wing party.

“Of course I hope to be the biggest party, or one of the biggest parties, but even if that does not happen we have had an excellent campaign,” he told ITV News.

The anti-Islam politician added that the diplomatic standoff with Turkey might have helped his party but could also have bolstered that of the prime minister.

He continued: “Elections are more than just Turkey, it’s about Holland in the near future, will we regain our independence, our national sovereignty, how will we spend our money,who will be in charge and in control of our country – are the people in charge again or is it the political elite?”

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is his opponent in the race. Credit: PA Images

He continued:“I am my own man and I hope to become one of the winners of the elections today.”

With the French and German elections later this year, it is the first in three crucial tests set to shape Europe's future.

The polls close at 9pm local time, the first exit polls are expected soon after and the provisional result will be announced in the early hours of Thursday before an official announcement on March 21.