Geert Wilders, a Dutch far-right politician and harsh critic of Islam, underperformed expectations in Wednesday's Dutch election, according to initial exit polls.
The exit polls show incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte staying on top with 31 seats in Dutch legislature, with Wilders increasing his total to 19 seats out of the 150-seat chamber, according to the Associated Press.
The final results may differ from the initial exit polls.
Wednesday’s vote in the Netherlands is the first of several European elections that will test the nationalist and populist stances espoused by insurgent political leaders. France and Germany will also hold elections in 2017.
Wilders, a member of the Party for Freedom, argued during his campaign that Islam poses a threat to the people of the Netherlands. The banner on his Twitter page reads “Stop Islam” in capital letters.
Wilders’s rhetoric has received support from Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who over the weekend endorsed the Dutch politician in a controversial tweet.
“Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies,” King wrote, including a cartoon of Wilders using his finger to plug a hole in a wall that reads “Western civilization.”
Following criticism for the tweet from other lawmakers, King doubled down.
"You can look down through the words and the language and there's nothing in my statement that references race in any way,” King told Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
“I do reference culture and civilization, and that's what we've got to restore, which is Western civilization for the world."