World Bulletin / News Desk
With nearly 95 percent of votes counted, Rutte appeared set for a third term as his People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) emerged with the largest share of votes, winning 33 out of 150 parliamentary seats, down from 41 in the 2012 election.
Thirteen parties had run in the election.
The result was a disappointment for Geert Wilders’ far-right Party for Freedom (PVV), which had been ahead in the opinion polls in the weeks leading up to the vote but saw its lead evaporate to emerge with 20 seats.
Addressing a crowd in The Hague late Wednesday, Rutte said: “We say no to the wrong kind of populism.”
He hailed his party’s win as a celebration of democracy.
“The Netherlands, after Brexit, after the American elections, said ‘Whoa’ to the wrong kind of populism,” Rutte said.
“Today was a celebration of democracy, we saw rows of people queuing to cast their vote, all over the Netherlands -- how long has it been since we’ve seen that?”
The turnout on Wednesday was more than 80 percent, the highest for 30 years. Many analysts said the high numbers could have helped pro-EU and liberal parties.