Current Netherlands’ prime minister Mark Rutte performed better than expected, and anti-immigration challenger Geert Wilders worse than expected in Wednesday elections.

Totals are not final, and some media outlets still refer to exit polls, but with some returns in, Reuters proclaims Dutch PM Rutte on Course for Big Victory Over Far-rRght Wilders.

The Netherlands’ center-right Prime Minister Mark Rutte was on course for a resounding victory over anti-Islam and anti-EU Geert Wilders in an election on Wednesday, offering huge relief to other EU governments facing a wave of nationalism.

“It appears that the VVD will be the biggest party in the Netherlands for the third time in a row,” a beaming Rutte told cheering supporters at a post-election party in The Hague. “Tonight we’ll celebrate a little.”

Rutte received congratulatory messages from European leaders and spoke with some by telephone.

“It is also an evening in which the Netherlands, after Brexit, after the American elections, said ‘stop’ to the wrong kind of populism,” he said.

Wrong Kind of Populism?

Rutte won, as expected, but to get to a coalition of 76 it will take at least 4 political parties to align.

If projections hold, support for Rutte is down by 22% from the last election and support for Wilders is up by about 58%.

Forget about Rutte taking more votes than expected. Rutte did so only because he embraced Wilders’ anti-immigration stance, minus the extreme bigotry of Wilders.

Misleading Labels

The media labels Wilders “far-right”. The label is ridiculous. Wilders is a socialist coupled with extreme bigotry.

Wilders is simply too extreme for most of the Netherlands. However, Wilders’ extreme rhetoric pushed Rutte way to the right on immigration.

Who Really Won?

Make no mistake, this election is a huge jump to the right. It’s also a huge move for less immigration.

Support for Rutte’s coalition partner, Labour’s PvdA, is projected to plunge from 38 seats to 9.

Given that no political parties would form a coalition with Wilders, and given Rutte’s pitch for less immigration, I suggest Wilders got nearly everything he wanted even if he fell a handful of seats short of what he hoped.

I was not rooting for Wilders, but you tell me: Who really won?

Mike “Mish” Shedlock