The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte – leader of the centre-right VVD – has won 32 of 150 seats in the closely watched national election, and will remain in his post as PM.
Geert Wilders, the leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV) – who has pledged to “De-Islamicize” the Netherlands – finished with 19 seats, putting him in a tie for second place with the Christian Democrats and Centrist Democrats 66 party.
Turnout was near an all-time high at 81%.
While the results are being cast as a blow for Wilders, his party actually gained seats. With 75% of the vote counted so far, Wilders’ PVV is on course to finish with 13.1% of the popular vote. Rutte’s VVD will finish with around 21%.
When it comes to seat-changes, the leading VVD is down 8 seats from 2012, the PVV is up 7, the CDA is up 6, and the CD66 are up 7. The socialist party collapsed compared to 2012, with much of their support going to the Greens.
Here are the popular vote results of the Netherlands Election:
- VVD-ALDE: 21.3%
- PVV-ENF 13.1%
- CDA-EPP 12.5%
- D66-ALDE 12%
- SP-LEFT 9.3%
- GL-G/EFA 9%
Rutte speaks of “populism,” Wilders express mixed-feelings
In his victory speech, Rutte tied the results to other elections. “It is also an evening in which the Netherlands, after Brexit, after the American elections, said ‘stop’ to the wrong kind of populism,” said Rutte.
Wilders shared mixed-feelings on the result – which saw him finish lower than some earlier expectations – but still gain seats. “I would rather have been the largest party…. but we are not a party that has lost. We gained seats. That’s a result to be proud of,” Wilders said.
While the results will be seen as a win for the “establishment,” that establishment has moved closer to Wilders’ positions over the years. During his last term, Rutte has strengthened immigration controls, said those immigrants who can’t integrate into Dutch society should consider leaving, and pushed for restrictions on the Burka.
So, though Wilders did not win, the Netherlands may be slowly moving more in his direction.
Photo – Twitter