Dutch Prime Minister Celebrates Win Over 'The Wrong Kind of Populism'

Dutch Prime Minister Celebrates Win Over 'The Wrong Kind of Populism'

"This could take a while", said Vossen.

Geert Wilders, a Dutch far-right politician and harsh critic of Islam, underperformed expectations in Wednesday's Dutch election, according to initial exit polls.

It was "a victory for common sense and a great start for Europe's election season", said Holger Schmieding, chief economist with Berenberg bank. Although Wilders' remarks have sparked heated controversy both at home and overseas, he is riding high in opinion polls in the final run-up to the election.

But Wilders retorted that he was standing up against "the liars and the legislators" and urged Dutch voters "if you want to take the Netherlands back for ourselves, then chase this man away and put me in the prime minister's office".

The Netherlands' proportional electoral system means that around a dozen political parties will win seats in parliament.

The next task was "to unite the country".

"Wilders was able to to increase his number of seats and dictated the terms of this election campaign".

Wilders had pledged to close the borders to Muslim immigrants, shut mosques, ban sales of the Koran and leave the European Union, if he was elected the largest party in the parliament. Now we are the 2nd largest party. "And next time we'll be the No. 1!"

Prime Minster Mark Rutte of the right-wing VVD party holds a narrow lead in polls over Wilders' Party for Freedom.

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The Dutch vote marks the first of three crucial Eurozone elections in 2017.

But, his profile - a outsider, anti-immigrant populist who's losing in the polls but has a vehement social following - does rather closely match that of another recent candidate. "The anti-EU right has lost the elections in the Netherlands". Wilders expressed readiness to enter into coalition talks as early results from the elections showed that the VVD was leading the race.

"But I'm afraid it's going to be very fragmented and hard to form a government", he told AFP.

Rutte plus the CDA and D66 would comprise 71 seats of the 76 needed for a parliamentary majority.

As a result a four or five coalition party is necessary, which will take months to negotiate. Wilders could yet be the main beneficiary, said Professor Joop van Holsteijn of Leiden University.

There are two big winners from this election: Jesse Klaver, the 31-year-old leader of the Groenlinks Party and Alexander Pechtold, the D66 leader. "20 seats in Parliament and 2nd largest party!"

The famously liberal hotbed in northern Europe has always been seen as something of a testing ground for whether a far-right populist surge that sprung up a year ago will dominate the continent in 2017.

The election opens what is likely to be a period of deep political instability.