Geert Wilders: Dutch far-right candidate denies he is 'some kind of Nazi' after election defeat

'He is implying there are good and bad populists. I don't see myself as a populist'

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Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-Islam Party for Freedom, congratulated Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on his victory in Wednesday's parliamentary election, promising firm parliamentary opposition if he did not end up in the coalition.

"I would rather have been the largest party," he told reporters outside his office in parliament. "(But) we gained seats. That's a result to be proud of."

Even outside of government, his party's influence on Dutch politics had been enormous, he added.

Wilders said he did not understand Rutte's comment that Dutch voters had said no to the "wrong kind of populists".

"I don't know what he means. He is implying there are good and bad populists. I don't see myself as a populist but he is suggesting I am a bad populist and some kind of Nazi."

The euro gained as the results of Wednesday's vote showed a clear win for Rutte, albeit with fewer seats than in the last parliament.

He declared it an "evening in which the Netherlands, after Brexit, after the American elections, said 'stop' to the wrong kind of populism."

The result was a disappointment for Wilders, who had led in opinion polls until late in the campaign and had hoped to pull off an anti-establishment triumph in the first of three key elections in the European Union this year.

Political analysts said Rutte won on a mix of factors, not all of which may apply to France, where far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen is expected to make it through to a second-round runoff in a presidential election in May.

Rutte received congratulations from European leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who faces a strong Social Democrat challenge in a September election and has shed some support to an anti-immigration party, Alternative for Germany, which is set to enter the federal parliament for the first time.

Merkel told Rutte: "I look forward to continuing our good cooperation as friends, Europeans, Europeans," her spokesman said.

Reuters

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