It was the election closely watched around the world. Although the Netherlands never seems to get that much press for its politics, this year was different. Populist Geert Wilders, an anti-Islam politician, was in the running and many feared that Holland might go the way of Brexit and the Unites States with the election of Donald Trump. However, incumbent Mark Rutte was easily able to keep his seat, and perhaps the rest of the European Union sighed a breath of relief.
After all, Wilders was making some fairly radical suggestions. Not only did he state that Netherlands should leave the E.U., but also that borders should be closed. Like Trump, Wilders also called upon his fellow countrymen to stop Muslims from coming into the country.
Well, the Dutch people spoke, and it appears that they were determined not to let populism sweep over their country. Polling stations had to be kept open late, and the voter turnout in Rotterdam reached a three-decade high.
As soon as the exit polls started to come in, one could hear the excitement in reporters’ voices. Coming out in high numbers to vote against Wilders and his populist ways, Dutch voters made a very strong statement about how they felt in regards to the E.U. Mark Rutte described the resounding win as a “celebration for democracy”, and other politicians congratulated him on the win, carefully noting its importance. With the French election looming in late April, it seems as if this was an important symbolic victory for progressive causes.