Dutch election shows tepid European Union support beat fragmented protest votes

The rejection of populism in the Netherlands is also expected to hinder the chances of Marine Le Pen in the upcoming French election as her Eurosceptic National Front Party is running on a similar set of policies.

Andre Krouwel, political scientist at the Free University Amsterdam, and owner of election website Kieskompas, said the only conclusion from the election result was that the Dutch were "deeply divided". The center-left Labor Party - which four years ago was the second-largest party in the Netherlands, and was the junior partner in the coalition - wiped out.

BEARDSLEY: Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen both want their countries to pull out of the European Union and its euro currency, and they want to close borders and stop immigration. The first French presidential ballot will take place on April 23 and the.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom tweeted that the Netherlands "voted against far-right populism and for an open society", while her Norwegian counterpart Borge Brende congratulated the Dutch and hoped the vote was "a new trend".

With almost all votes counted, his party easily beat the anti-immigration Freedom party of Geert Wilders.

Kurz says most bloc members agree in the wake of the large influx of migrants Europe saw in 2015 and 2016 that strong controls on European Union external borders are needed.

In the latest Dutch parliamentary election, the center-right People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) beat the far-right party PVV led by Wilders by far.

The impact of late-gamechangers, such as Rutte's firm stance against Turkey in a dispute which dominated the last few days ahead of the vote, could have implications for the French and German votes later this year. Instead, they'll be driven as much by local issues as global concerns.

"She is unlikely to win the presidency, she has to get through to the final round - which she likely will".

And the challenge for Europe's more moderate candidates - such as Ms Le Pen's chief rival, independent Emmanuel Macron - is to reconnect with voters alienated by European Union bureaucracy and frustrated by economic stagnation.

The high turn-out of 81% also suggests universal support among the Dutch electorate for a continuation of the status quo.

"Rutte has not seen the back of me", Wilders said after the results had sunk in.

Dutch polling agencies pride themselves on their near exclusive use of anonymous online questioning - more reflective of a society with some 95 percent of the population active on the web - and weighting of responses according to likelihood to vote.

In the wake of the victory of Donald Trump as USA president in November, Wilders surged, and at one point looked like he could get close to one of four Dutch voters behind him. He added that he wanted to participate in coalition talks, even though mainstream parties have ruled out working with him.

Rutte, whose win helped boost the euro EUR= and European shares, called it an "evening in which the Netherlands, after Brexit, after the American elections, said "stop" to the wrong kind of populism".

Erdogan on Thursday said that while Rutte may have won the election, he had lost his country's friendship. Support for the two most pro-EU parties, the progressive D66 and GreenLeft, was way up.

Such is the threat of populism that German Social Democrat leader Martin Schulz immediately looked beyond the historic defeat of his Dutch left-wing political comrades and congratulated Mr Rutte - a paragon of free trade and tough austerity.

After flirting for some months with putting Geert Wilders at the helm of the country of 17 million people, in the end Dutch voters, who turned out in droves, opted for stability in one of the eurozone's biggest economies.

  • Leroy Wright