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THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Just days away from a national election in which he hopes to secure a third term in office, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte did not want to be seen as backing down to Turkish threats.
Rutte enraged Ankara by refusing to let Turkey's foreign minister land in the Netherlands on Saturday and denying the country's family and social policies minister access to the Turkish consulate in downtown Rotterdam.
However, the prime minister may have bolstered his image as a tough leader while in the midst of an electoral battle with far-right populist Geert Wilders.
Amsterdam political scientist Andre Krouwel says that in a campaign dominated by nationalism, the diplomatic furor lets Rutte and his party show voters, "We are the ones who go down into the trenches to defend the Netherlands."