All eyes on Dutch election as European alt-right gains momentum
The Dutch Green Left party, led by 30-year-old Jesse Klaver, has won an informal election held among students a day before the Netherlands goes to the polls for real.
Geert Wilders, a passionate anti-Muslim politician who has called for the Netherlands' mosques to be shuttered and borders to be closed to asylum seekers and immigrants from Islamic countries, surged in the polls in recent months but the popularity of his Freedom Party has waned in the past few weeks.
As you can see, there are a bewildering number of parties in the Netherlands. While Wilders' Party for Freedom is in second place in polling for Wednesday's elections, it trailed in fourth in the school election with 12.6 percent. If the results pan out that way, there will be nearly no chance for Wilders to become the country's Prime Minister.
The Netherlands' centre-right Prime Minister Mark Rutte roundly saw off a challenge by the anti-Islam, anti-EU Geert Wilders in an election on Wednesday, exit polls said, a huge relief to other EU governments facing a wave of nationalism.
The front-runners were incumbent Conservative Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his far-right rival Geert Wilders, who has reportedly campaigned to take the Netherlands out of the European Union, close all Muslim mosques and ban the Koran.
"The Netherlands belongs to all of us, and everyone who does his best", he said. But since all other major parties have refused to form a coalition with the far right group, it is extremely unlikely that Mr Wilders - who lives under 24-hour security - will end up in government.
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However more than two dozen parties are running in the election.
After casting his ballot in the Hague, Wilder said: "Whatever the outcome of the election today, the genie will not go back into the bottle". With no party polling above 17 percent, at least four will need to join forces for a parliamentary majority - the first such alliance since a series of short-lived governments in the 1970s.
The elections were on the heels of Rutte's decision to ban two Turkish ministers from addressing Turks at a political rally Saturday in the eastern city of Rotterdam, resulting in wide-scale demonstrations outside the Turkish consulate there.
The exit polls show incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte staying on top with 31 seats in Dutch legislature, with Wilders increasing his total to 19 seats out of the 150-seat chamber, according to the Associated Press.
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