DUTCH ELECTIONS: Prime Minister Mark Rutte has smashed far-right leader Geert Wilders

Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s ruling People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) is set to win the most seats in the Dutch parliament for the third time in a row, dealing a blow to populist leader Geert Wilders.

In the early hours of Thursday, with over 95% of the votes counted, Rutte’s VVD is projected to win 33 seats, giving him a strong lead over Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV) which is set to grab 20, according to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

The PVV is also closely followed by the Christian Appeal (CDA) and D66 which are both set to win 19 seats.

Although the VVD lost 9 seats compared to the last elections, the Labour party suffered a truly historic loss, losing 29 seats compared to the last elections. Wilders’ PVV won 5 seats more than in the 2012 elections.

“It appears that the VVD will be the biggest party in the Netherlands for the third time in a row,” Rutte told supporters at a post-election party in The Hague, according to Reuters. “Tonight we’ll celebrate a little.”

“It is also an evening in which the Netherlands, after Brexit, after the American elections, said ‘stop’ to the wrong kind of populism,” he said.

The PVV leaders congratulated Rutte on his victory and promised a firm opposition: “I would rather have been the largest party,” he told reporters outside his office in parliament. “We won four or five seats. That’s a result to be proud of,” Wilders said. He also added that his party has had a huge influence on Dutch politics even outside of parliament.

This story is developing.

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