“It appears that the VVD (People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy) 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.
EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker hailed a “vote against extremists” after Rutte appeared to beat far-right rival Geert Wilders in elections, his spokesman said.
“Juncker just spoke with Rutte, congratulated him on clear victory: ‘A vote for Europe, a vote against extremists’,” Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas tweeted.