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Populist Surge Stumbles in Dutch Election

by Thomas A. Hawk, published

Despite strong showings in public opinion polls, Geert Wilders (who the press have nicknamed the "Dutch Trump") and his Freedom Party didn't have the election day they were hoping for Wednesday.

According to CBC News, after 95 percent of the vote was counted in the Netherlands, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's VVD Party (People's Party for Freedom and Democracy) won 33 of the 150 seats in parliament. That was enough for Rutte to secure a third term as prime minister.

Wilders' Freedom Party came in second with 20 seats -- a gain in parliament. The party had a commanding lead at one point in the race, but a survey released right before the election showed a tight race with the current leadership having a slight lead.

Geert Wilders had a strong lead in the polls through most of 2016 and early 2017, indicating that his victory could continue a broader surge of nationalistic populism seen with Brexit in the U.K. and the election of Donald Trump in the U.S. The Dutch election was one of three major elections in the EU that would indicate the future of this movement.

Wilders got the most attention in the press for his anti-immigration policies. However, though the press dubbed him the "Dutch Trump," Wilders rhetoric was far more extreme than anything the President of the United States said on the campaign trail, referring to Islam as a “totalitarian ideology,” and even advocating the ban of mosques.

Photo Credit: Robert Hoetink /

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