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Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the free-market VVD party celebrates after exit poll results of the parliamentary elections were announced in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, March 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Patrick Post)

Prime Minister Mark Rutte claimed victory over populist candidate Geert Wilders


UPDATE 9:21 pm: Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Wednesday claimed a resounding victory over anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders, according to the Associated Press. Provisional results with more than half of the results counted suggested that Rutte's party won 32 seats in the 150-member legislature--13 more than Wilders' party.

Rutte's victory challenges the global populist movement that led to President Trump as well as Britain's decision to leave the European Union.

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Prime Minister Mark Rutte
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte casts his vote for the Dutch general election in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, March 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Patrick Post)

The preliminary election results favoring Rutte poise him for a third term as the leader of the country.

Original story

The latest exit polls out of the Netherlands show Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte winning the election over anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders. 

Polling shows Rutte has 31 of the 150 lower-house seats. Wilders came in second with 19 seats, which is a gain but not enough to secure the win. According to Politico, his anti-Islam Party for Freedom was predicted to tie with two other parties for second place. 

Geert Wilders
Geert Wilders

Wilders' unexpectedly poor results could be a sign that the European population may not be easily swayed by nationalist rhetoric.

Wilders is best known for being anti-Islam, pledging to ban the Quran, close Dutch mosques and take the Netherlands out of the European Union, USA Today reports. 

Mark Rutte
Mark Rutte

During his campaign, Rutte called the election an opportunity for voters to send a message about "the wrong sort of populism."

Rutte portrayed himself as the safe bet and cast Wilders as a far-right radical.

After casting his vote, Rutte warned a win for Wilders could mean that the "rest of the world would see that after Brexit, after the American elections, again the wrong sort of populism has won the day."

Despite this loss in the Netherlands, right-wing nationalists seem to be gaining ground in France and Germany, both of which will have elections this year, USA Today explains. 

The candidates in those races are running on similar platforms against immigration, Islam, and the EU.

The official results of the Dutch election won't be published until March 21 or later. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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