Voters in the Netherlands put a stop, at least for now, to the far right in Europe as preliminary results give liberal right wing candidate, Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the victory over the racist and anti-euro contender, Geert Wilders.
So, for the first time after the xenophobic, far-right push for Brexit won in the U.K. and populist, antimuslim and anti-immigrant Republican candidate Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in the United States, xenophobic populism has been dealt its first defeat in the Western Hemisphere.
The Dutch electoral authorities announced that with 95 percent of the votes tallied, Rutte is in first place with 33 parliamentary seats, which, however, is a far throw from the 76 required to form a government.
Rutte’s success at the voting stations could be tied to the firm way he handled the diplomatic row with Turkey, according to El Pais.
“We’ve put a stop to the wrong kind of populism,” said Mr Rutte in clear reference to his closest contender, Wilders.
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Massive turnout for Netherlands elections today pic.twitter.com/a9TZsRAyS4
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The prime minister will have to come to understanding with three or four parties in order to form a government solid enough to hold him in power for four more years.
Wilders’ Party for Liberty fell short of concerned expectations winning only 20 seats in parliament. This five more than in 2012 but two less than in 2010. The Christian Democrats and the leftist liberals of D66 both obtained 19 seats.
One of the first international figures to celebrate Rutte’s victory was Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission.
“I congratulate the Netherlands for choosing to vote in favour of Europe and against extremism,” he said.
Wilders accepted his defeat but re-vindicated his movement say, “This is a patriotic spring. I’m a fighter and not a populist. Our influence is great.”
However, Wilders warned that although he would prefer to rule the country, he will focus on carrying out a “strong opposition” to the next government.