According to final vote count tallies, Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s centre-right VVD has scored a commanding lead over his main rival Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV).

With 95 percent of votes counted, PM Rutte’s VVD won 33 seats in the 150-place legislature, down from 41 at the last vote in 2012. Wilders came second with 20 seats, Reuters news agency reports.

Prime Minister Rutte has claimed victory saying the Dutch voters have stopped a ‘wrong sort of populism’.

Wilders thanked over a million Dutch citizens who voted for his party , tweeting, “12 years after [its] founding, PVV becomes the second [biggest] party of the Netherlands! Great!”

German Chancellor Merkel has congratulated Prime Minister Rutte, Germany’s public broadcaster DW News confirmed.

Reuters news agency reports:

Dutch center-right Prime Minister Mark Rutte scored a resounding victory over anti-Islam and anti-EU Geert Wilders in an election on Wednesday, offering huge relief to other governments across Europe facing a wave of nationalism.

Rutte declared it an “evening in which the Netherlands, after Brexit, after the American elections, said ‘stop’ to the wrong kind of populism.” (…)

With around 95 percent of votes counted, Rutte’s VVD Party won 33 of parliament’s 150 seats, down from 41 at the last vote in 2012. Wilders was second with 20, the CDA and centrist Democrats 66 tied for third with 19 each, data provided by the ANP news agency showed.

At 78 percent, turnout was the highest in a decade in an election that was a test of whether the Dutch wanted to end decades of liberalism and choose a nationalist, anti-immigrant path by voting for Wilders and his promise to “de-Islamicise” the Netherlands and quit the European Union.

Wilders campaigned on the promises of de-Islamising the Netherlands and taking the country out of the European Union. With his slogan “The Netherlands is ours again” Wilders had vowed to take back control from the unelected E.U.-bureaucrats.

Around 13 million Dutch citizens were eligible to vote in Wednesday’s election and nearly 80-85 percent of them turned out to cast their ballots according to some estimates. With 28 other parities in the fray and no clear winner, negotiations could take months before the new governing coalition emerges.

Other parties have rejected the idea of sharing power with Wilders-led PVV. Out of total 150 seats in the Dutch Parliament, 76 seats are required to form a majority government.

On his campaign trail, Wilders vowed to take the Netherlands out of the E.U., promising a Brexit-style referendum upon assuming the Prime Minister’s office. The Netherlands is one of six core state that created the European Economic Community (ECC) — the predecessor of the E.U. — some 50 years ago. The Netherlands’ exit from the E.U, or Nexit, would have undoubtedly spelled doom for the Franco-German “European Project”.

After leading the polls since November 2016, Wilders numbers started to drop when he was forced to abruptly suspend his campaign following a major security breach late February. A Moroccan-Dutch police officer working on his security detail was arrested for allegedly passing on Wilders’ movements to criminal gangs. Europe’s leading critic of Islam, Wilders has survived attempts on his life by Islamists and has been living under around-the-clock police protection for nearly 13 years.

Regardless of the outcome of the Dutch elections, the E.U.’s troubles are far from over.

In France, Marine Le Pen of Front National is offering a stiff challenge to establishment parties. The first round of the two-stage presidential election is set to take place next month, followed by a possible second round in May.

Germany’s anti-establishment Alternative for Germany (AfD) might be trailing in the third place with Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Social-Democratic rival Martin Schulz running neck and neck for the top spot. But with both Merkel and Schulz committed to uncontrolled mass-immigration, the AfD Party could win enough undecided voters to challenge the frontrunners ahead of the September election. Seven months can be a long time in an electoral cycle.

Liberal media may be ecstatic at this “blow to populism”, but nothing can take away from the fact that Geert Wilders created an entire political movement to fight the rise of Islamism in Europe, despite a sustained campaign of smear and intimidation from the European ruling class and the establishment media. He has been dragged to courts by liberals and received death threats from the Islamists — for daring to speak the truth about political Islam.

Whatever the outcome of this election may be, Geert Wilders and Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) are here to stay.

AFP report: Dutch PM wins most seats, Wilder’s PVV shares second place:

[Cover image courtesy AFP, YouTube]