19th Apr 2021

Dutch leader to extend 10-year rule

  • Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is a veteran on the EU stage (Photo: European Council)

Dutch centre-right prime minister Mark Rutte is poised to extend his 10-year rule after elections on Wednesday (17 March), in which new liberal and far-right faces also gained.

"The voters of the Netherlands have given my party an overwhelming vote of confidence," Rutte said in parliament in The Hague after exit polls came in.

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"Not everything has gone well in the last 10 years ... But of course the main issue also on the table for the next years is how to rebuild the country going forward after corona," he added.

"I have the energy for another 10 years," the 54-year old said.

The victory came despite "this unprecedented crisis" of the pandemic, Sophie Hermans, one of Rutte's senior MPs, also said.

For her part, Sigrid Kaag, the new face of the D66 liberal party, jumped on the table in her campaign HQ after coming second.

The old face of the far-right, Geert Wilders, lost a few seats, but still came in third place.

And corona-denier Thierry Baudet also gained (7th place), while left-wing parties suffered.

The most likely result is more of the same under Rutte with D66 and other conservatives.

Some 16 parties out of 37 that ran made it into the legislature and will splinter its 150 seats based on proportional representation.

Rutte had campaigned as a safe pair of hands on the pandemic and for the Dutch economy.

His past 10 years in office also covered the 2015 EU migration crisis and the earlier euro earthquake.

And he is a veteran on the EU stage in a year of change in which German chancellor Angela Merkel is to step down.

Rutte's government had resigned in January in a fiscal scandal, but Wednesday's elections were scheduled to have taken place anyway.

The vote was held under an evening curfew and amid a third wave of corona infections in Europe.

Turnout was 82 percent, but most campaigning took place on screen.


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