Prime Minister Mark Rutte's party appears to be holding off a strong challenge from far-right leader Geert Wilders
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has won the country's election, holding off a strong challenge from far-right leader Geert Wilders, an exit poll suggests.
Mr Rutte's VVD party is reported to have taken 31 of the 150 parliamentary seats, or 21% of the vote - down from 27% in the 2012 election.
Mr Wilders' PVV is believed to have won 19 seats (13%). This puts him equal second with two other parties - the Christian Democratic Appeal and the Democracy party D66.
There was a high turnout where voters had 28 parties to choose from, and coalition talks lasting weeks or possibly months are now expected to follow.
Mr Wilders received much of the media coverage during the election campaign and he has achieved a rise of 3% compared to last time.
The exit poll was conducted at 43 of the 9,300 polling stations across the country. It had a margin of error of two percentage points.
The election in the Netherlands came ahead of polls in France and Germany, when right-wing nationalists will also be key players.
Mr Rutte hoped to slow the momentum of what he called the "wrong sort of populism" after last's year Brexite vote and the election of 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 that whatever the election result, the kind of populist politics he and others in Europe represent aren't 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.
Additional reporting from IRN