Dutch election: Wilders defeat celebrated by PM Rutte

BBC
March 16,2017

Dutch election - Geert Wilders
Geert Wilders
Source : BBC

Dutch people rejected “the wrong kind of populism”, Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said, as he celebrated victory in Wednesday’s election.

“The Netherlands said ‘Whoa!'” he declared after his centre-right VVD party’s lead positioned him for a third successive term as prime minister.

With nearly all votes counted, his party easily beat the anti-immigration Freedom party of Geert Wilders.

Fellow eurozone countries France and Germany also face elections this year.

The Dutch race was seen as a test of support for nationalist parties that have been gaining ground across Europe.

Mr Wilders insisted “the patriotic spring” would still happen.

The euro gained as the results pointed to a clear victory for the prime minister’s party.
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How big is Rutte’s win?

With all but two vote counts complete, the prime minister’s party has won 33 out of 150 seats, a loss of eight seats from the previous parliament.

The Freedom party was in second place on 20 seats, a gain of five, with the Christian Democrats (CDA) and the liberal D66 party close behind with 19 seats each.

The Green-Left party also did well, winning 14 seats, an increase of 10.

The Labour Party (PvdA), the junior party in the governing coalition, suffered a historic defeat by winning only nine seats, a loss of 29. Labour’s defeat appeared to signal voters shifting to the right, as many of the seats it lost did not go to other left-wing parties.

“All in all the left has never been smaller than this,” said outgoing Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem.
Turnout was 80.2%, the highest for 30 years, which analysts say may have benefited pro-EU and liberal parties.

“We want to stick to the course we have – safe and stable and prosperous,” Mr Rutte said.

What does this mean for the EU?

France goes to the polls next month to elect a new president, with the far right National Front forecast to increase its vote dramatically.

In Germany, the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) may win seats in parliament for the first time in September’s general election.

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