Dutch PM sees off populist challenge in boost for EU

election vote

Mar 17, 2017 (LBO) – The Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, saw off a challenge from the populist Geert Wilders to claim victory in parliamentary elections.

The political establishment in Europe welcomed the result as a boost for the European Union after its battering from the Brexit vote.

Rutte’s party could secure 33 seats (a loss of eight MPs) and will need the support of at least three other parties to obtain the 76 seats needed to govern.

Coalition talks on forming a new government have begun but could take months to finalise, the Guardian reported.

Rutte said his victory halted resurgent nationalism, claiming “The Netherlands said ‘Stop’ to the wrong sort of populism.”

Wilders, despite a projected second-place finish overall with around 20 seats, is not likely to be part of those negotiations, with all major parties unwilling to work with his populist, anti-Islam MPs.

Wilders said he was proud that his PVV had gained seats to come second in the poll only 12 years after it was founded.

The unexpected victor of the night was GreenLeft, led by 30-year-old Jesse Klaver, which boosted its four seats to a projected 14. It could now play kingmaker in coalition talks.

The official tally of results will be published on 21 March.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel described it a “very pro-European result” and a “good day for democracy”.

Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe in the European Parliament, said: “People want constructive and reliable politicians to govern their country. This is why Le Pen will also fail.”

Turkey said there is “no difference” between the ruling Dutch liberals and the “fascist” anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who was barred by Netherlands from speaking at rally in support of giving Turkish President Erdoğan, extra powers, said: “You look at the social democrats and the fascist Wilders, there is no difference, they have the same mentality.”