Dutch far-right populist Wilders kicks off election campaign

Anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders has kicked off his campaign for Dutch parliamentary elections amid tight security and intense media interest in a blue-collar town near Rotterdam.

Surrounded by police and trailed by a small group of protesters, Wilders on Saturday handed out fliers and posed for selfies with supporters at a market in Spijkenisse.

Wilders, whose party now has 12 lawmakers in the 150-seat lower house of Parliament, is riding high in polls, with most putting him narrowly ahead of the right-wing party of two-term Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

However, it remains to be seen if Wilders could form a governing coalition if he wins the popular vote on March 15. Mainstream parties shun him because of his hard-line anti-Islam views and have ruled out working with him.