This year on 15 March 2017, the Netherlands holds a very rencorous election. The majority of Dutch electorate has chosen to reject the “Patriotic Spring” and anti-Islam promised by Geert Wilders, and choose to return to the outgoing prime minister, Mark Rutte, the leader of People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie-VVD), with his promise of economic stability. According to data provided by the ANP Dutch news agency, Mr Rutte’s VVD Party was projected to win 32 of parliament’s 150 seats, down from 41 at the last vote in 2012, but ahead of Mr Wilders who was in third place at 20 seats.
The election was being watched closely across the Europe–particularly in Paris and Berlin, which will face their own elections later this year. The result was a relief to mainstream parties across Europe, particularly in France and Germany, where right-wing nationalists hope to make a big impact in elections this year, potentially posing an existential threat to the EU.German Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Rutte by phone, while French President Francois Hollande released a statement praising “the values of openness, respect for others, and a faith in Europe’s future” as the only true responses to nationalism and isolationism. Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel took to social media to tweet his support.
Mr Rutte has warned that victory for the Freedom Party leader would have a negative impact far beyond the Netherlands on the campaign. As he won the general election on Wednesday, Rutte told a cheering crowd in The Hague, saying that that day was the evening where the Netherlands, after Brexit, after the American elections, said no to the wrong kind of populism. Mr Wilders’s one-page election manifesto includes pledges to de-Islamise the Netherlands by closing the borders to immigrants from Muslim nations, closing mosques and banning the Koran, as well as taking the Netherlands out of the European Union. As a response to the result of the general election, Wilders did congratulate his rival, yet vowed to continue his fight, saying that the patriotic spring had already started and would win eventually.