The Netherlands’ main exit poll suggests that anti-Islam firebrand Geert Wilders had an unexpectedly poor showing during the Dutch elections, finishing far behind Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
For Wilders, the poll was a test whether his fiery nationalist rhetoric caught the imagination of the population. Even if he increased his total in the 150-seat legislature from 15 to 19, it is was a disappointment since he was seeking to become the biggest party.
Instead, the poll suggests Rutte has 31 seats.
A Wilders victory would have further boosted the fortunes of populists across Europe. But now, it was the first indication since the Brexit vote last year, that populists could also be beaten.
Both Rutte and Wilders had defined Wednesday’s Dutch parliamentary election as a litmus test for populism in Europe, where France and Germany also face crucial contests in the months ahead.