Prime Minister Mark Rutte defeats Geert Wilders in Dutch election

Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s liberal party is the winner of the Dutch election according to exit polls. His liberal party took 31 seats in Parliament compared to just 19 for his opponent Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom. From Fox News:

With France and Germany facing elections in the months ahead, Rutte hoped to slow the momentum of what he called the “wrong sort of populism” after last’s year British vote to leave the European Union and the election of U.S. President Donald Trump.

“This is a chance for a big democracy like the Netherlands to make a point to stop this toppling over of the domino stones of the wrong sort of populism,” Rutte said after voting.

Wilders has been an outspoken critic of Islam and of open borders. His party also wants the Netherlands to leave the European Union. Fox News spoke to Wilders today as he was voting in the election. “Whatever the outcome of the election today. The genie will not go back into the bottle and this patriotic revolution, whether today or tomorrow, will take place anyway,” he said.

Fox News notes that even if Wilders’ party had won the most seats in Parliament it would be unlikely he could become Prime Minister because other parties had already said they would not be willing to form a coalition government with him. There are 150 seats in the Dutch Parliament and forming a government requires a coalition of at least 75 seats.

The other big change in this election was the collapse of the Labor party which had previously been a major partner in Rutte’s government. But the Labor party’s loss meant a big gain for the Green Left party. From the Associated Press:

An exit poll in the Netherlands shows Jesse Klaver has led his Green Left party to a historic victory, turning it into the largest party on the left wing of Dutch politics for the first time.

According to the Ipsos exit poll, the Greens leapt from four seats to 16 in parliament after a strong campaign by the charismatic Klaver, who invites comparisons to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“This is a fantastic result for us, a historic victory,” Green Left chairwoman Marjolein Meijer said.

Here’s the brief Fox interview with Wilders.