February 22, 2019

Dutch election: Wilders defeat celebrated by PM Rutte

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.
0011The euro gained as the results pointed to a clear victory for the prime minister’s party.
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 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%, which analysts say may have benefited pro-EU and liberal parties. The number of voters was a record 10.3 million, according to public broadcaster NOS.
“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.
Mr Rutte had already spoken of the election as a quarter-final against populism ahead of the French and German polls. And his victory was warmly greeted by other European leaders and politicians:

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