Far-right leader loses Dutch election

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has easily defeated anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders in Netherlands' parliamentary elections, according to the country's main exit poll.

The Ipsos exit poll suggests Mr Rutte's centre-right VVD Party won 31 seats in the 150-place legislature on Wednesday, 12 more than Mr Wilders' Party for Freedom, which was tied in second place with two other parties at 19 seats apiece.

"I am so proud at what has happened and happy that we have been given the trust again" by voters, Tamara van Ark, campaign leader of Mr Rutte's liberal VVD party said.

With France and Germany facing elections soon, Mr Rutte hoped to slow the momentum of what he called the "wrong sort of populism" after last year's British vote to leave the European Union and the election of US President Donald Trump.

"This is a chance for a big democracy like the Netherlands to make a point to stop this toppling over of the domino stones of the wrong sort of populism," Mr Rutte said after voting.

Mr Wilders had insisted whatever the result of Wednesday's election, the kind of populist politics he and others in Europe represent was not going away.

"The genie will not go back into the bottle. People feel misrepresented," he said, predicting the feeling would surface in the French and Germany elections.

Mr Rutte had a last-minute boost from a diplomatic row with Turkey, which allowed him to take a tough line on a majority Muslim country during an election campaign in which immigration and integration were key issues.

Dutch proportional representation means up to 15 parties could win a parliamentary seat and it could take months for Mr Rutte to build a coalition.

The turnout is forecast at 81 percent against 74.6 percent in the 2012 election, according to national broadcaster NOS.

Mr Wilders said Mr Rutte "has not seen the last of me".

"Thank you PVV Voters! We won seats!," Mr Wilders said in a tweet.

"The first victory is in! And Mr Rutte has not seen the last of me yet!!"

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has responded with relief at Mr Wilders' loss. "Good." she tweeted.