Dutch election: Netherlands rejects religious politics in decisive election
15:45, Mar 16, 2017
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Many Dutch parties - 28 took part in the elections, making coalitions de rigeur - have said they would not join ranks with Wilders even if the Party for Freedom did win the most seats.
The big worldwide story of the campaign was the rise of Geert Wilders, a far-right anti-Islam politician and leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV).
Prime Minister Mark Rutte's liberal party is the victor of the Dutch election according to exit polls.
Far-right populism in Europe failed its first test of 2017 when the nationalist firebrand Geert Wilders came a distant second in the closely-watched Dutch election.
Experts said Mr Rutte won on a mix of factors, not all of which may apply to France, whose political establishment faces a challenge from a far-right populist Marine Le Pen next month. "He knew that the Dutch government would refuse entry to his ministers", says a European Commission source to The Brussels Times.
According to the election's early results, a majority of three parties could be eligible - allowing Klaver to compromise less for his "government future", at least for the time being.
Compared to 2012, CDA gained six seats, D66 won seven more seats, and SP lost one seat while GroenLinks became the biggest victor with a gain of 12 seats.
While the Netherlands has experienced modest economic growth in recent years and Dutch unemployment is among the lowest in the European Union, Wilders has attracted voters who feel that they have not benefited from the country's prosperity.
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Politicians from both countries were quick to congratulate the Netherlands for staving off populist policies which overturned the US election and the U.K.'s European Union referendum.
"He (Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte) didn't let our foreign minister go to the Netherlands".
French President Francois Hollande said Rutte had won a "clear victory against extremism".
In so doing, he resisted Wilders' demands for a more extreme reaction. But this was far short of the polling numbers he had been achieving, which had attracted worldwide press interest and led Rutte to issue stern warnings of a "domino effect" across Europe and "chaos" under Wilders.
But the secretary general of France's far-right National Front, Nicolas Bay, said he was encouraged by Mr Wilders' gains, calling the result a "success".
While most of the top parties did not take especially liberal positions in the campaign, a sizable minority of Dutch voters turned out to show support for the very opposite of populism.
Once the dust has settled from the vote, Dutch MPs will negotiate over potential ruling coalitions, which could take a number of forms.
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