Top 10 takeaways from the Dutch elections

The Dutch political establishment managed to maintain its grip on power in one of Europe's most closely watched elections Thursday.

Exit polls pointed to a win - albeit a slim one - for Mark Rutte's conservatives, putting him on track to form a coalition government.

Meanwhile, populism got a bloody nose in the poll with Geert Wilder's Party for Freedom (PVV) coming second with fewer votes than expected.

Let's take a look at the big surprises of the night.

  1. Amazing turnout - 82 percent - the highest in over 30 years. That's great for democracy and bucks the low turnout trends elsewhere.
  2. Does the thwarting of Wilders' PVV to get first place reflect on return of mainstream politics and a reining in of pan-European far fight populism? It's hard to say whether this will be seen elsewhere, especially in France. The Dutch political scene is so fragmented and the country's relative wealth means it does not face same social pressures and hence right wing groundswell.
  3. Pollsters got it right! Crickey! There's a first for a year or so.
  4. Bye-bye Dijsselbloem? I'm not sure he has a hope of remaining head of the Eurogroup of the euro zone's finance ministers. His PvdA party were the biggest losers of the night. Not sure how he can remain in such influential positions even if PvdA squeezes itself into a coalition government.
  5. On that note, the destruction of the PvdA is uncannily like the demise of the Lib Dems in U.K.'s 2015 post-coalition general election. Junior coalition parties everywhere. beware!
  6. This doesn't necessarily mean a stable government in the Netherlands. You need 76 seats for a majority. By my maths, that means at least four parties in ruling coalition.
  7. All of which means potentially months before Rutte's new government takes shape.
  8. Which also means some big compromises on policy. All junior parties have agendas which could make it tough for Rutte to push ahead like he did before this election.
  9. One big winner of the night was GreenLeft who has quadrupled its seats. I spoke to leader Jesse Klaver on the campaign trail. He's not a big fan of Rutte, so there'll be lots of thorny issues to overcome if he is final piece of government jigsaw.
  10. Finally, this debate shows that having an outside, perceived or real, threat, once again benefits all incumbent politicians. Just like Thatcher wth the Falklands and countless others over the years, having Erdogan making all kinds of rhetoric boosted Rutte (…and probably Erdogan too).

Steve Sedgwick is an Anchor for CNBC. You can follow Steve on Twitter @steve_sedgwick

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