Activists celebrate the results of the Dutch elections. Pic/AFP
Amsterdam: Dutch centre-right Prime Minister Mark Rutte fought off the challenge of anti-Islam and anti-EU rival Geert Wilders to score an election victory that was hailed across Europe on Thursday by governments facing a rising wave of nationalism.
Rutte declared it an “evening in which the Netherlands, after Brexit, after the American elections, said ‘stop’ to the wrong kind of populism.” The result was a disappointment for Wilders, who had led in opinion polls until late in the campaign and had hoped to pull off an anti-establishment triumph in the first of three key elections in the European Union this year.
EU chief calls Dutch vote ‘inspiration’
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker congratulated Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on his election victory on Thursday, calling the result which disappointed anti-immigration eurosceptics “an inspiration for many”. “The people of the Netherlands voted overwhelmingly for the values Europe stands for: free and tolerant societies in a prosperous Europe,” Juncker wrote in a letter.