Anti-Islam Geert Wilders lags in Netherlands exit poll

Anti-Islam Geert Wilders lags in Netherlands exit poll
Dutch Anti-Islam candidate Geert Wilders did not perform as well as expected in the Netherland's parliamentary elections Wednesday, after exit polls put Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the lead.
2 min read
15 March, 2017
PM Mark Rutte's party has secured 31 seats, according to an exit poll [Getty]

The Netherlands' main exit poll indicates that anti-Islam firebrand Geert Wilders had a surprisingly poor showing in the Dutch elections, finishing far behind Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

For Wilders, the parliamentary election was a test of his fiery righ-wing rhetoric, which has focussed on immigrants and anti-Muslim sentiment.

The poll suggests that Wilders has failed to make his party the larget in Holland's legislature, with Prime Minister Rutte possibly securing 31 seats out of 150.

A victory for Wilders' Party for Freedom would have boosted the aspirations of populists across Europe. In November, Wilders hailed the electoral victory of US President Donald Trump as a "revolution" and a precursor to triumph for his own party.

"We also will give our country back to the people of the Netherlands," he tweeted.

The Dutch Labor Party, meanwhile, has been punished by voters, plunging from 38 seats at the last election to just nine, according to an exit poll.

The left-leaning party appeared to be hammered by its supporters for its role over the last four years in pushing through a tough austerity package as junior member in a two-party Cabinet with the right-wing VVD party of PM Rutte.

Labor Party junior Cabinet minister Sharon Dijksma called the defeat, "an enormous slap for us all and I think that all social democrats this evening have a scratch on their soul."