The Dutch Populist Movement Isn't Quite As Popular As Everyone Thought

The far-right Party for Freedom lead in the polls but came up short in votes.
Posted at 9:45 AM, Mar 16, 2017

Voters in the Netherlands have officially decided who will have a seat in their lower house of Parliament, the Tweede Kamer.

An election like this usually doesn't get much international play, but a rising interest in far-right populist parties across Europe made this one different.

In the run-up to the vote, one party and its leader got a lot of attention: the far-right nationalist Party for Freedom, led by Geert Wilders.

The Party for Freedom said it would aim to help the Netherlands leave the European Union and stem the flow of Muslim immigrants entering the country.

Despite leading in polls before the election, most Dutch citizens didn't end up supporting the party.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his People's Party for Freedom and Democracy are projected to keep the top spot.

More than two dozen parties participated in the election, so no one group was expected to take a majority.

With most of the votes counted, the seat breakdown looks like this:- People's Party for Freedom and Democracy keeps 33 seats. - Party for Freedom has 20.- Both the Christian Democratic Appeal and the Democrats 66 have 19.- Socialist Party and GreenLeft bump up to 14 seats each.- Labour Party has nine. - Christian Union, Party for the Animals, 50PLUS, Reformed Political Party, Denk and Forum for Democracy all have five or fewer seats.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker congratulated Rutte, saying the results showed values of a "free and tolerant" Europe.

He also added he hopes this win is "an inspiration for many," which some thought alludes to future contests: Germany and France both have crucial elections coming up.

In a tweet after the election, Wilders thanked voters and said in Dutch, "Rutte is not rid of me yet."