Dutch people cast their ballots for the Netherlands' parliament election at a voting station in The Hague, the Netherlands, March 15, 2017. (Xinhua/Ye Pingfan)
The liberal rightist party VVD of Prime Minister Mark Rutte took the lead in the Dutch parliamentary elections, according to the final exit poll released on Wednesday, with the far-right party PVV staying far behind.
The definite exit poll forecasted the VVD got 31 seats of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives, or lower house of the parliament.
The PVV, the center-right Christian Democrats CDA, and the leftist liberals D66 were expected to garner 19 seats each. The green leftist GroenLinks obtained 16 seats, followed by the leftist Socialist Party SP with 14 seats and the leftist Labor party PvdA with nine seats.
The amount of 31 seats means a loss of 10 seats for the VVD compared to the previous elections in 2012. The PVV gained four seats compared to the previous elections, but the result was thought to be a disappointment for its leader Geert Wilders, because his party had long led pre-election polls.
The VVD beating the PVV in the race to become the biggest party means that the Dutch people have refused to give power to a right wing populist party.
After the Brexit vote and Donald Trump's victory in the U.S. presidential election, a win for the PVV could have been the continuation of the wind of populism blowing through Europe and a barometer for the upcoming elections in France and Germany.
"After the Brexit and Donald Trump winning the U.S. Presidential elections, everyone is looking at us," Mark Rutte told supporters at a party meeting in The Hague following the release of exit poll results. "This evening, the Dutch people said no to the wrong kind of populism."
His remarks were echoed by D66 leader Alexander Pechtold and GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver. "The sound of populism has stopped in the Netherlands," said Pechtold. "Populism has not had a breakthrough in the Netherlands," added Klaver.
In line with a previously-publicized schedule, Wilders did not have a meeting with his supporters on Wednesday night.
Through Twitter, the PVV leader reacted. "We gained seats," Wilders wrote. "Rutte has not seen the last of me."
With the first place, the VVD would have the right of priority to form a coalition government. Based on the results forecasted by the exit polls, Rutte will have to form a cabinet with other parties.
Before the elections, Rutte had already stated that CDA and D66 are his favorite parties to govern with, but the fourth party has to come from the left, GroenLinks, SP or PvdA, which will be more difficult.
"We have to come together and make a stabile government again." Rutte told cheering supporters on Wednesday night. "I will do anything for that."
The Labor which formed the outgoing coalition government with the VVD, is the biggest loser in the elections, according to the final exit poll. The Labor party lost 29 seats compared to four and a half years ago.
Compared to 2012, CDA gained six seats, D66 won seven more seats, and SP lost one seat while GroenLinks became the biggest winner with a gain of 12 seats. "It is a historic evening," GroenLinks Klaver said.