With 99% of votes counted, Mark Rutte’s governing VVD party remained the largest party in the Dutch parliament, falling by 8 seats to 31 seats in the 150-seat legislature.
Despite the loss in seats, Rutte’s party is by far the largest, and soundly beat off a challenge from far-right leader Geert Wilders, who only weeks before was leading in polls.
Coalition talks will now begin, with Rutte likely to form a four-party coalition, the largest in recent history. He is likely to invite the Christian Democratic Party, the D66, and the Green party, who all made gains in the election, while previous coalition partner the Labour Party falling to 9 seats and likely out of government.
Meanwhile, Wilders gained 5 seats to get to 20 seats in parliament, becoming the second largest party and the official opposition. Despite a worse showing than expected, Wilders called the night a victory, saying “Rutte has not seen the last of [him] yet.”
The elections are a cause for relief for many European leaders, who face strong contenders on the far-right and left, with elections coming soon in both France and Germany.
Rutte received congratulatory calls and messages from European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, SPD Leader Martin Schulz, and the French Foreign Minister.
(Image: NBC News)