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Dutch PM celebrates ‘rejection of populism’

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Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte says the Netherlands has rejected “the wrong kind of populism” as he celebrated victory in parliamentary elections, the BBC reports.

With nearly all votes counted his governing centre-right VVD party easily beat the anti-immigration, anti-EU Freedom party of Geert Wilders.

The race was seen as a test of support for nationalist parties that have been gaining ground across Europe.

Mr Wilders insisted “the patriotic spring” would still happen.

With more than 90% of votes counted, the VVD had won 33 out of 150 seats, a loss of eight seats from the previous parliament.

Mr Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV) was in second place on 20 seats, a gain of five, with the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) and the liberal Democrats 66 (D66) close behind with 19 seats each.

The Green-Left party also did well winning 14 seats, an increase of 10.

The Labour Party (PvdA), the junior party in the governing coalition, suffered a historic defeat with only nine seats, a loss of 29.

Turnout was more than 80%, the highest for 30 years, which analysts say may have benefited pro-EU and liberal parties.

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