The Dutch election, widely seen as a bellwether for upcoming votes across Europe, was never just about whether far-right politician Geert Wilders would win the most votes, because unlike in the USA and Britain, the Netherlands is not a winner-takes-all system.
A win for him would have been seen as a boost for French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, running second in opinion polls before a presidential election in April and May, and for populist parties elsewhere that want to curb immigration and weaken or break up the European Union.
"This is an evening in which the Netherlands, after Brexit and after the American elections, said "stop" to the wrong kind of populism", Rutte, who will serve a third term as prime minister, said in a victory speech.
The speaker of the lower house of parliament, Khadija Arib, met with the leaders of all the 13 parties in the newly elected legislature Thursday and announced that the Liberals, which took the most seats in the 150-member chamber - 33 - would take the lead in the process. "Probably because he noticed [supporting Trump] was hurting him in the polls", said Pepijn Bergsen, Netherlands analyst for the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Now many in continental Europe will breathe a sigh of relief that Wilders is kept out of the government. The son of a Moroccan father and Indonesian mother, Klaver told reporters on election day that the left should challenge the far right by standing up for their ideals: "What I would say to all my left-wing friends in Europe: don't try to fake the populace". "Therefore I was very happy that a high turnout led to a very pro-European result, a clear signal".
"The Netherlands, oh the Netherlands you are a champion!" We love Orange for these actions and have been doing! "Congratulations on this great result".
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European markets rallied after Rutte's victory. The AEX dragged other major European indices higher with the FTSE, DAX and CAC all finishing between 0.5 percent and 0.7 percent higher.
Still, Wilders had expressed confidence when he cast his vote Wednesday at a school in The Hague, saying that populist policies in Europe would not be stopped regardless of the result. Wilders vowed to keep fighting, telling his devoted followers the fight is not yet over. Next time we will be nr. "This patriotic spring will happen". "It has already started".
But don't exhale just yet: Europe's biggest test of 2017 is still to come.
Political observers believe a win for Wilders may have helped France's far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen. "This is why Le Pen will also fail". "The French have been dispossessed of their patriotism". They chose to rearrange the country's political furniture instead of throwing it into a bonfire.
Le Pen has criticized globalization, promised protectionism and threatened to bring back the French franc. The far-right populist Party for Freedom of Wilders was second with 20 seats, five more than the last time but still a stinging setback after polls in recent months had suggested his party could become the largest in Dutch politics. "After Austria, where voters confirmed in December 2016 their preference for a president from the Greens over a candidate from the extreme right, the Netherlands delivered new proof of the vigor of democratic resistance to the rise of anti-European populism", wrote the editors.