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German leaders relieved by Dutch result

dpa logodpa 15/03/2017

German politicians are relieved far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders did worse than expected in parliamentary elections, calling the result a win for Europe.

German politicians have voiced their relief as results from elections in the neighbouring Netherlands came in, showing far-right firebrand Geert Wilders had failed to make a breakthrough.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte's VVD Party was projected to win 31 of parliament's 150 seats on Wednesday, down from 41 at the last vote in 2012 but ahead of Wilders' Party for Freedom, which tied in second place with two other parties at 19 each.

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel called the result on Wednesday a win for Europe and said he was also optimistic that far-right candidate Marine Le Pen would fail to carry the day in French presidential elections later in 2017.

"The Dutch have rejected the anti-European populist. Good for that. We need you for a strong Europe in 2017," the German foreign ministry tweeted.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, could not restrain his joy, tweeting: "The Netherlands, oh the Netherlands you are a champion!..... Congratulations on this great result."

The outcome of the Dutch elections is seen as a bellwether for elections in Germany and France this year, and many Germans are concerned the euro-sceptic Alternative for Germany could do well, building on its anti-immigrant platform.

Martin Schulz, the Social Democratic candidate in parliamentary elections this year, said the results were a clear renunciation of Wilders' trash talking and his "unspeakable stance towards entire ethnic groups".

Wilders has based much of his political career on concerns about creeping Islamisation in the Netherlands.

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