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Tags: Wilders | Netherlands | election

Dutch Liberals Projected to Beat Wilders' Party in Election

Dutch Liberals Projected to Beat Wilders' Party in Election
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, left, and Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders, foreground. (AP)

Wednesday, 15 March 2017 05:06 PM

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Liberals easily beat the anti-Islam Freedom Party of Geert Wilders in Wednesday’s election, an exit poll showed, as voters responded to Rutte’s plea to send a signal on halting the spread of populism.

The Liberal Party is projected to take 31 seats in the 150-seat lower house of parliament compared with 19 seats for the Freedom Party, according to the official exit poll conducted for national broadcasters released after voting closed. Wilders’s party has to share second place with the Christian Democrats and centrist D66, both of which are also forecast to get 19 seats.

The outcome, if confirmed, would be a worse result than opinion polls had predicted for Wilders, and represent a rejection of his platform of pulling the Netherlands out of the European Union, abandoning the euro, closing Dutch borders and stopping all immigration to the Netherlands by Muslims. It would also suggest that the nationalist sentiment that promoted the U.K.’s Brexit vote and brought Donald Trump to the White House is struggling to secure as big a foothold in mainland Europe.

“Dutch voters rejected populism and voted for Europe,” said Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, a senior fellow with the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “It seems like Rutte’s appeal for a ‘centrist fightback against Trump and Brexit’ was heard.”

The euro climbed to the highest level in more than a month on the result. Kirkegaard said that Rutte will probably stay on as premier, noting that the Christian Democrats and D66 are both “strongly pro-European.”

France Next

With crucial elections in France in April and May and then in Germany in September, Wednesday’s election in one of the EU’s founding members was in the international spotlight like rarely before. Faced with the prospect of a major shift in the direction of their country, Dutch voters responded by flocking to make their voice heard. Turnout in Rotterdam, the second-biggest city, was forecast to be the highest in at least 30 years, while balloting stations in the seat of government, The Hague, were kept open later to allow the queues of people to vote.

All the same, voters punished Rutte’s coalition of the past four years of Liberals and the Labor Party. The Liberal result is a drop of 10 seats from the last election in 2012, while Labor was one of the night’s most dramatic losers, putting in doubt the future of finance minister and Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbleom.

Labor’s collapse, to nine seats from 38, is the worst rout in Dutch electoral history, according to Kees Aarts, professor of political institutions and behavior at the University of Groningen. Thirteen parties are projected to enter parliament.

“It’s a paradox that the Liberal Party is winning by losing the least,” he said by phone. “The main message is that the fragmentation is unprecedented.”

© Copyright 2021 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.


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Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's Liberals easily beat the anti-Islam Freedom Party of Geert Wilders in Wednesday's election, an exit poll showed, as voters responded to Rutte's plea to send a signal on halting the spread of populism.The Liberal Party is projected to take...
Wilders, Netherlands, election
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2017-06-15
Wednesday, 15 March 2017 05:06 PM
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