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  1. ITV Report

Dutch election: PM Mark Rutte hails rejection of 'wrong sort of populism' in victory over Geert Wilders

The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has hailed the rejection of the "wrong sort of populism" in his election victory over Geert Wilders.

Rutte's party soundly beat the party of anti-immigrant populist Wilders, dubbed the 'Dutch Donald Trump'.

Rutte, who is now poised for a third term as prime minister, said: "We want to stick to the course we have — safe and stable and prosperous."

However Wilders said his party are "also winners in this election", as he conceded defeat.

"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."

Far-right anti-immigrant populist Wilders has been dubbed the Dutch Donald Trump. Credit: PA

The main exit poll suggested Prime Minister Mark Rutte had won the election comfortably.

The economic recovery and Mr Rutte's hard-line handling of a diplomatic dispute with Turkey over the past week has won him support, the Ipsos poll indicated.

While the final votes are still being counted, Mr Rutte's VVD party has 33 of the 150 seats in the lower house of parliament, eight fewer than in 2012.

Mr Wilders' far-right Party for Freedom came second with 20 seats, five more than at the previous election.

The Christian Democrats and centrist D66 parties, probable future coalition partners for Mr Rutte, won 19 seats each.

With France and Germany facing elections in the months ahead, Mr Rutte hoped to slow the momentum of what he called the "wrong sort of populism".

This comes after last's year British vote to leave the European Union and the election of US President Donald Trump.

But even before the final results came in, Mr Wilders had already tweeted: "Rutte has not seen the last of me."

President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker congratulated Mr Rutte's election victory, calling the result which disappointed anti-immigration eurosceptics "an inspiration for many".

Mr Juncker continued: "The people of the Netherlands voted overwhelmingly for the values Europe stands for: free and tolerant societies in a prosperous Europe.

"Let us build a strong Europe together."