Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Wednesday claimed a dominating parliamentary election victory over anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders, who failed the year’s first litmus test for populism in Europe.
The Netherlands’ main exit poll suggested Rutte’s party won 31 seats in the 150-member legislature, 12 more than Wilders’ party, which shared second place with two other parties.
Following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump’s election as US president, “the Netherlands said, ‘Whoa! Stop!’ to the wrong kind of populism,” said Rutte, who is now poised for a third term as prime minister.
Rutte, who for much of the campaign appeared to be racing to keep pace with Wilders, may have profited from the hard line he drew in a diplomatic standoff with Turkey over the past week.