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Voting Draws To A Close In Dutch Elections; Exit Poll In Dutch Elections Released; Dutch Green Leader: We've Tried to Build A Movement; Progressive Muslim Party Reacts To Wilders; Exit Poll: Rutte's VVD Takes Early Lead; Damascus Suicide Blasts Kill At Least 25. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired March 15, 2017 - 16:00:00   ET




HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Welcome to a very special edition of the program, THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. We are live from The Hague in

the Netherlands. It is 9:00 p.m. local time. I am Hala Gorani.

Polling stations will begin to close. Voting is all but over and ballots are being counted in the crucial elections which the world is watching. We

are moments from the first exit poll. We'll bring you that as soon as we have it.

This is no ordinary vote, of course. The outcome could reshape the political landscape not just here in the Netherlands, but potentially the

European Union. It is the first big electoral test since the election of Donald Trump in the United States.

The prime minister here has a lot at stake. You see him on the left voting earlier today. He is seeking re-election. He and his party want to form

the next coalition government once again. But riding a wave of populism is sweeping across western democracies as the far right candidate, Geert

Wilders and his party. He's anti-immigration, anti-Muslim and anti-E.U.

All right, I understand we have our first exit poll results. VVD, the party of the incumbent Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, is coming out on top. I

will wait for the exact ranking of the parties according to the Broadcaster NOS.

These are results that have not been certified by our polling methodology but that are being broadcast on the national broadcasting network here in

Holland. I will ask my producer to hand me the figures to see exactly where we are in the ranking as far as the party of the prime minister.

It appears the party of the prime minister, VVD, of Mark Rutte, according to ONS, the national broadcaster and their exit polling methodology has

come out first and the party of Geert Wilders, the fire brand politician, anti-immigration, anti-E.U., anti-Islam candidate has come in second.

I'm seeing pretty good results for D66, the Green Party as well. VVD clearly on top according to some of the figures I'm seeing here. All

right, Dutch politics is splintered. There are 28 parties running in this election.

As we have been telling people most are watching just two. It's the prime minister's Freedom and Democracy Party, which has come out on top according

to the exit polling, and Geert Wilders' PVV Party, which so far is second.

We have also the Christian Democrats performing pretty well. Actually almost on par with Geert Wilders's party with the same number of projected

seats, and again the Green Party doing pretty well as well.

Both leaders, by the way, as I mentioned, the prime minister and Geert Wilders cast their ballots today. Before we get to a more precise

breakdown in what appears to be a significant victory for the incumbent prime minister, here's what the two main candidates told voters today.



MARK RUTTE, DUTCH PRIME MINISTER: The fact that they are enlarging problems instead of solving them, having a political leader who wants to

take away the Koran from Muslims in the Netherlands who wants to close our mosques, and who is basically talking about not taking the necessary

positions to take the country forward. Populism, there is nothing wrong with it. The populism is not addressing the real issues of the people.

Only making them bigger instead of solving them.

GEERT WILDERS, PEOPLE'S PARTY FOR FREEDOM: Whatever the outcome of the election today, the genie will not go back in the bottle and this

revolution will take place whether today or tomorrow.


GORANI: Well, there you heard from the two main candidates. We have an exit poll done for the Dutch national broadcaster, NOS. It's just come

out. Here it is in graphic form. It projects that the Freedom and Democracy Party is first. This is the party of the incumbent Prime

Minister, Mark Rutte.

The Labour Party, second. The Labour Party was projected to perform not as well as it did last time. Geert Wilders, his party coming in third

according to the exit poll from the national broadcaster, NOS. As with any exit poll it may not be precise enough to predict the final outcome. It

was not commissioned by CNN.

Right now we don't have necessarily a clear leader but this is the nature of Dutch politics, of course. It is a very fractured political landscape.

[16:05:07]Atika Shubert joins me now from the headquarters of Prime Minister Mark Rutte's Party for Freedom and Democracy known as VVD here in

The Hague.

OK, according to the very initial results, Atika, is there some sense of relief at the party headquarters of the current prime minister?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. As soon as the first -- these are again preliminary exit poll results, but as

soon as they came out there was a cheer from VVD supporter, who were gathered here tonight. This is clearly shows they seemed to be ahead at

this point.

But again, it is preliminary and from the Dutch broadcaster so we do have to wait and see some of those extra numbers. What is surprising from these

numbers is that sort of three-way tie between Geert Wilders far right party, the Christian Democrats Party and D-66, a much more left party.

So it does seem to be a very broad base spread out across a number of parties here. But the winner so far at least in this preliminary round

here appears to be VVD breaking ahead. Again, there are still, in fact, some polls that may be open in The Hague and Rotterdam. These numbers

could change but for the moment, VVD is looking strong, the party of the incumbent prime minister.

GORANI: All right. As you speak to party officials and they tell you essentially, I'm sure based on the preliminary results there is a sense of

satisfaction, to what do they attribute this to, Atika?

SHUBERT: I think there is a number of different things that his supporters and his assistants have been talking to. One, they have been hammering

home a few messages -- the economy. The economy has grown in the last year by 2.1 percent after an austerity program he put into place.

It looks like we are having a light function here in the press area. In addition to that, they made a push at the end particularly with the Turkish

diplomatic crisis saying the prime minister came out very strong, took a tough line with Turkey and showed he could be tough but fair on immigrant

communities here including the Turkish community.

That really may have boosted his odds at the ballot box. A lot of voters I spoke to said, you know, that was the event that made up their mind, the

game changer because he acted like the prime minister they wanted him to be.

We'll have to wait and see what the big issues were, you know, after this night is over and they combed through all the data. I think it's found to

be a number of factors, but those are the ones that when we spoke to voters, impressed them the most.

GORANI: Atika Shubert, thanks very much. There at the party headquarters of the party of the prime minister. I'm joined now by Sarah de Lange, a

professor from the political science department at the University of Amsterdam. Thanks for being with us.

All right, first of all, just to update our viewers, we have in the first place quite firmly in first place the party of the prime minister. Then we

have a tie for second place according to the exit polls. PVV, the party of Wilders, the Christian Democrats, and then we have D66, the centrist party

there as well. We have a competition lower down the line. What does that tell us about this?

SARAH DE LANGE, DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF AMSTERDAM: Well, the results are completely in line with the polls that we have seen

in the past days, which have shown that there is massive fragmentation in the Netherlands and that all the parties have limited support. It is very

clear who is the leader after these elections, it is Prime Minister Rutte. But who he will govern with remains uncertain.

GORANI: He is the leader. There was a possibility according to earlier polling that he may not come first, but it appears as though he came in

first with quite a margin as well.

LANGE: Yes, we have seen in the past weeks that Geert Wilders, his main rival, was sliding in the polls for a variety of reasons. In addition to

that we had an incident this weekend where Prime Minister Rutte really reacted firmly towards Turkey interfering in Dutch democracy which might

have given him the edge in elections today.

GORANI: Now the Labour Party, though, didn't do well at all, projected to having essentially maybe possibly even a third of the seats of the prime

minister's party. What's going on there?

LANGE: Well, the Labour Party is doing even worse than predicted in the exit polls. Its leader has not been particularly visible in the campaign.

Its supporters have been dissatisfied with the way in which the Labour Party has governed with the liberals. Making too many compromises

especially on social policies.

GORANI: What do you make of Wilders, though, coming in basically tied for second place? I mean, this isn't a stellar performance he could have

registered, is it?

LANGE: No, we have seen in the past couple of elections that support for Wilders is very high in the polls. It doesn't materialize on Election Day.

One reason is during a government's term the voters like to stress their dissatisfaction by supporting an outsider.

[16:10:05]Once Election Day is there strategic consideration about the government composition also come into play and negatively affect his


GORANI: Why is that the case here? Because in other countries when you have more extreme parties you may see less support in the polling. People

don't necessarily admit to wanting to vote for a particular candidate. When Election Day comes they will slip it in the ballot box and vote for

their preferred candidate of the party. Why is it the reverse in the Netherlands?

LANGE: In the Netherlands, it's become very easy to express your support for a populist party since the murder of (inaudible) in 2002. Very few

people feel uncomfortable expressing their support in, for example, the polls.

GORANI: OK, that's interesting. So now the big question now, of course, is going to be if these exit poll numbers hold it seems as though the prime

minister, the incumbent, is in a pretty comfortable position?

LANGE: Yes. Historically the exit polls have been very accurate in Netherlands, only being off by 1.5 percent per party. I think that Prime

Minister Rutte can be declared the winner of these elections.

GORANI: All right, and now if he is -- Wilders won't be part of any government, right? Because every party has said pretty much we are not

going to do business with Wilders.

LANGE: Wilders is not in the running to be part of the coalition. First of all, he is not the leader so he won't take the lead in the negotiations.

There is no reason to include him at the moment because an alternative coalition can be formed with D66, the Christian Democrats and the Green

Party if necessary.

GORANI: Do you think -- last question -- we are attracting a bit of attention which is good because people have been very passionate about this

election. Turnout was much higher this time than in 2012. The big interest worldwide in this has been we saw Donald Trump elected. We saw

Brexit happen. The Netherlands were the first kind of test of 2017. Were we going to see the populist wave continue here or will it stop here? Has

it stopped here?

LANGE: I don't think it has stopped. It's very important to realize that the dynamics of European politics with coalition governments and multi-

party systems are very different from that in the U.S. or even in the U.K., which is a majoritarian system.

GORANI: But still, though, the fact that we didn't see the potential number we could have seen for Wilders, does that tell us anything at all in

terms of future contests?

LANGE: I don't think so. The dynamics of the French elections which are up next are different because these are presidential elections. I think

we'll see Marine La Pen in the second round of the French elections even though Wilders has not performed as effective.

GORANI: Sarah de Lange of the University of Amsterdam, thanks very much. Very initial numbers came in. Took us a little bit of time to shake them

out, but it looks as though according to the exit polls as we told our viewers the party of the incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte has performed

better than expected and it's first in the polls.

LANGE: Yes, exactly.

GORANI: Biggest party, thanks so much.

This election wasn't just about two parties. We are in the Netherlands, after all. Dozens were on the ballot. One candidate who caused a stir was

the young leader of the Green Party. I will look at his performance as well. How did the Green Party do?

All right. We are looking at half the support of the VVD of the party of the prime minister. So not bad at all. He's a young 30-year-old. I spoke

to him earlier today before the polls closed and asked if he thought his party was disrupting Dutch politics. Listen.


JESSE KLAVER, DUTCH GREEN PARTY LEADER: We tried to disrupt Dutch politics in a positive way. (Inaudible) disrupting politics for many years but it

is based on fear and hate. We have a message of hope, optimism and change. We tried to build a campaign that's more than a campaign, more like a

movement. We have tried to attract a lot of young people to get involved in democracy and in politics.

GORANI: Geert Wilders. You are of Moroccan extraction through your father, right, and Indonesian and Dutch through your mother. So you are

the very incarnation of an immigrant success story technically speaking. Even though you are second generation.


GORANI: How do you think that helps or hurts you in Dutch politics?

KLAVER: It doesn't hurt me. I think it will help me because I understand what Dutch society is like. We are very multicultural. We have different

cultures living here together. We have a very diverse background. I think I know what's happening in Dutch society. I think that's important for the

leader of the country.

When I talk to the voters, it's not only the voters who will vote for the Greens, but also with voters who are voting for Geert Wilders or other

right wing parties. When you start the conversation it will begin with immigration, Islam, refugees. Within two, three minutes the conversation

will turn, and it's about housing, income, the health care bills.

GORANI: Is it not also about identity? Many Dutch people have said this is about, this election is about deciding who we are as Dutch citizens.

What's the answer to that?

[16:15:04]KLAVER: We are tolerant and a free country. I believe that we are an emphatic society and the way that conservatives like (inaudible) is

a populist who try to define the country by Santa Clause or Christmas, eastern x or the national anthem, that's not who we are. Who we are is

based on the values this country is built on for many decades.


GORANI: All right. Another party on the list today was Nida Progressive Muslim Party based in Rotterdam. Now these are some of the smaller parties

that are hoping to make it on the national stage just as we are learning from the exit polls that the big established party of the prime minister

has come out on top in this election.

Now I spoke to their founder, Nourdin El Ouali, about Geert Wilders and his anti-immigrant message.


NOURDIN EL OUALI, FOUNDER, DUTCH NIDA PARTY: He doesn't bring any solutions. He really problem -- he's good. He is the champion in telling

people what the problem is. He has a simple recipe. The problem is the other. It's the foreigner, the migrant, the Muslim. That's his only

policy, but he doesn't bring solutions.

GORANI: His solution is ban Koran, close the country to Muslim immigration. He's saying what his solution is.

EL OUALI: Well, that's not a solution because we have --

GORANI: Close mosques as well.

EL OUALI: Yes, true. He has this kind of ideas, which are dangerous ideas because we have a constitution in this country that guarantees equal rights

and all the freedoms, just like in your country, freedom of religion and so on and so forth. So his ideas are not democratic ideas but really extreme

ideas that don't fit in an open democratic liberal society.

GORANI: What is this election about? It is a lot about identity, right? It's a lot about what it means to be Dutch. What does it mean to be Dutch?


GORANI: Today.

EL OUALI: But if you ask me what is this election about? I would say it's about ecology. It is about poverty. It's about work and things like that,

and health care. Yes. It's true. It's about mainly about Dutch identity. I think it's an idea of people feel that our values are under pressure, and

I agree with that --

GORANI: What do you agree with?

EL OUALI: Well, that our values are under pressure. The story is that they are under pressure because of this new groups, migrants, Muslims, so

forth and so on. But the real -- real challenge --

GORANI: I have to stop you there because what I find interesting is you say you do agree with the notion that some of the traditional Dutch values

are under pressure because, what, of recent waves of migration?

EL OUALI: No. My point of view is a different one. That's the point of view of Wilders and also our prime minister.

GORANI: I was a little puzzled when you said that.

EL OUALI: Our values, our Dutch values are reflected in our constitution. You said what kind of solutions this politician wants. They are under

pressure and the threat is even bigger. The threat isn't coming from outside. It is in our parliament.

GORANI: I see.

EL OUALI: So this kind of idea has really put the pressure on our values and people like me opposed to that because we say we are Dutch citizens.

Yes, we have a migration, but right, diversity isn't a problem. It's enriching us.


GORANI: All right. One point of view there. He's a city counselor in Rotterdam. And by the way, in Rotterdam, the lines there were long in

polling stations. We understand according to the national broadcaster that some of the polling stations are staying open later, past 9:00 p.m. local

in order to allow all the people who are already in line to cast their ballots.

But breaking news this hour. We want to bring you exit poll numbers done for the Dutch national broadcaster, NOS. They have just come out. Here

they are. They project that the Freedom and Democracy Party is first, the party of the current prime minister.

The Geert Wilders party is in a three-way tie with the Christian Democrats and you see as well the D66 party. So first for the prime minister

incumbent, Mark Rutte. Then you have a three-way tie between the parties of Geert Wilders, the Christian Democrats, the CDA, and the party D66.

Now, remember of course, this is an exit poll. It is not as precise as the final results will be. I will stress again this was not commissioned by

CNN. It is being broadcast by NOS, the national state broadcaster in the Netherlands.

Let's bring in a political cartoonist gauging the exit poll numbers because we always like seeing the lighter side of things.


GORANI: So let's talk about your work. You are going to have a lot to draw and a lot to think about.

ROYAARDS: It's a crazy world right now. Not only in the Netherlands, but with populism on the rise in Europe and in America as well. That's been a

lot on my mind and on the mind of a lot of cartoonists I think.

[16:20:10]GORANI: What do you make of the result? Because it looks according to this exit poll as though the incumbent prime minister though

he's done worse than last election came out first.

ROYAARDS: Yes. So two things I noticed is that one of my biggest fears and a lot of progressives with me was that the PVV of Geert Wilders would

become biggest which he hasn't and the progressive greens have actually risen a lot. So it's interesting to see the three-way tie for the second

largest party.

GORANI: There is some fresh blood in this election, right. You mentioned the Greens, Jesse Klaver. He's 30 years old. He's called the Justin

Trudeau of Dutch politics. There is a passing resemblance, by the way.


GORANI: Have you ever drawn him?

ROYAARDS: No, not yet.

GORANI: Maybe you should start today.


GORANI: So what you're going to do so we explain to the viewers is you draw on an iPad, right?


GORANI: You're going to basically -- I don't know if we can get a shot of this or not. You're going to draw your take on the results of this

election and we'll show that later in the program. You will present it to us and we'll talk about it and discuss.

OK, thanks so much. We'll see you later in the program. Get to work. Still to come this evening, don't drag the big microphone with you.

We'll continue our coverage of the Dutch election. A member of the Liberal Party Democrats, the D66 Party is my guest. Stay tuned for that. We'll

have more on breaking news from the Netherlands. We'll be right back.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I'm more concerned about the issues of immigration, for example, my wife has immigrated and successfully

integrated into Dutch society. It's a topic that's very -- yes, that concerns us. It's really personal for us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like the fact that we are more people, more cultures and it all comes together. I'm not a person that's like this is

the Netherlands and we have to stay like this. We have already changed. You can't bring something back that's already changed.


GORANI: Welcome back. You are hearing from Dutch voters focused on immigration among other big topics. Welcome back to a special edition of

the program. I'm Hala Gorani. We are live in The Hague in the Netherlands.

I want to reiterate breaking news according to preliminary exit polling. It appears as though the party of the incumbent prime minister has come out

on top. Then a three-way tie between three other parties including the party of Geert Wilders and D66.

And Marietta Shockers, a member of the European parliament representing the Liberal Dutch Democratic Party or D66, and she joins me now. What do you

make of these very preliminary results?

[16:250:03]MARIETTA SCHAAKE, MEMBER OF EP, DUTCH DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Well, it shows that the fragmentation is still very much present. The prime

minister's party would have done better than projected. Geert Wilders did not come in first which is what brings a lot of international media here I


GORANI: So does that mean this populist fever has stopped in the Netherlands? Can we say that?

SCHAAKE: Well, that's what D66, my party, fought for. We have always put the progressive agenda as opposed to a nationalist conservative agenda. It

is encouraging to see you can win on that. I'm very happy to see at least in the initial results that we have grown significantly.

GORANI: Your party is pro-Europe. It is pro-diversity. It has a very different take on immigration.

SCHAAKE: Absolutely.

GORANI: Those very important topics than parties more to the right. You think you have come out on top in some ways because of that.

SCHAAKE: Well, we have definitely won. We struck to the constructive agenda. I think there is a big difference not only between conservative

and progressive in this election, but also between those who are willing to take responsibility and those who were only pointing to what other people

have done wrong, where the problems are without offering concrete solutions or showing a willingness to take on responsibility.

GORANI: So going forward, of course, and in the Netherlands it's all about coalitions. Nobody gets a majority. You need to build teams. You need to

build teams to form a government. So obviously you are looking forward to D66 being part of a coalition?

SCHAAKE: It's early to tell. So I don't look forward to anything at this moment except for final results tonight. We are looking forward to seeing

how they come out as we go on. Of course, it will be a challenge to put together a majority government in this fragmented landscape. It's

something that we have done before.

We have representative democracy and coalition governments historically in the Netherlands. So it requires people that can work together. That's

also a big distinction in the different parties, some that are willing to cooperate and others that are not.

GORANI: But regardless of what coalition comes together, we know that Geert Wilders' party will not be part of it. We know that.

SCHAAKE: Well, his agenda --

GORANI: Nobody will work with him.

SCHAAKE: His agenda is fundamentally on a number of points against our constitution. It is quite extreme in that sense. It makes it very

difficult to bring on board others. A number of parties including my own have said that they cannot and will not work to work on this program. I

don't see there is a possibility. I doubt this is actually what Mr. Wilders has in mind.

GORANI: The Labour Party in this country performed terribly. It was one of their worst results, I think, according to your national broadcaster I

think ever. Why are some of these establishment parties that used to be the biggest chunk of the electorate in this country and many other western

democracies, why are they not getting the support they once did, do you think?

SCHAAKE: Well, it's a mixed bag. I mean, other established parties such as the Christian Democrats have done relatively well compared to where they

came from. It is a mixed bag. I think a lot of people have been disappointed in the Labour Party perhaps also because they had to work with

the conservative liberals in the last government. They seem to have been punished for that while the prime minister's party has not lost as much.

GORANI: But you don't think there is any -- when I spoke with Jesse Klaver of the Greens there were literally hundreds of people that just like a

magnet came up to him. He's almost like a celebrity here.


GORANI: He is a celebrity. When you ask them, what do you like about him, they say he's young, different, not this old guard that has lived on their

own privileges and their elite status. Is there something there, do you think? Some truth there to the fact that Dutch politics and other politics

also maybe need this injection of fresh blood?

SCHAAKE: I'm very happy to see that a progressive agenda like the one we have fought for has been gaining ground. So it's not only the story about

Mr. Wilders which is what it looks like from the outside. It is much more diverse and good to see that a progressive agenda can win. So in that

sense, I think that's why a lot of people are looking to him, but also to other political leaders when they go in the street and talk to people in

the campaign.

GORANI: Very high turnout it seems. We don't have the final number. This must be encouraging to you, a member of the D66 Party and a member of the

European parliament to see Dutch voters so engaged.

SCHAAKE: Of course, high participation is always great. We have the freedom to choose from a wide variety of parties. I'm glad to see people

have taken their responsibility and used the freedoms we have to make their choice that fits them.

I am curious to see what young people have done. They have made such a difference in many elections or made a difference by not showing up. I'm

very happy that many people understood the importance of these elections and have turned out.

GORANI: We'll see if age breakdown as well. How many people among the young people decided to vote? Marietta Schaake of D66, a member of the

European Parliament, thanks so much for joining us in The Hague.

Do stay with us.

[16:30:00] Ahead we are tracking other top stories including yet another day of deadly violence in Syria. This time in the capital. Some shocking

suicide bombings happening there. We'll bring you that next.


GORANI: All right. The Netherlands decides. We have some exit poll numbers and breaking news this hour for the national broadcaster, NOS,

these exit poll numbers were compiled. They've just come out, and they are projecting that the Freedom and Democracy Party has come in first. This

the party of the incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte who must be breathing a sigh of relief this evening.

And then we have a tie for second place between the party of Geert Wilders -- this is the Freedom Party, the PVV -- and then we also have the

Christian Democrats and D66. Those two other parties in a three-way tie for second place.

And this is an exit poll and this may not be as precise, obviously, as the final outcome. It's not clear exactly who will come out on top in second

place. It does appear, though, as though, Mark Rutte, the incumbent Prime Minister's party seems to hold a rather significant lead. Though, we will

see how that shakes out.

This poll was not commissioned by CNN, though. It was commissioned for the national broadcaster here in the Netherlands.

I'm joined now by Monika Sie. She's the general director of Clingendael, a Dutch think tank. And Hans Vollaard. He's a lecturer in Dutch and

European politics at the Institute of Political Science at Leiden University. Thanks to both of you for joining us.

I going to position myself here. Monika, I'm going to start with you. And then we'll get to you, Hans.

You see the results here. There were initial polls that suggested that Geert Wilders would come in first, and that he would, you know, do

extremely well and he would be the biggest party in the Netherlands. That hasn't happened, it appears.


perspective because it was around 15 percent, 14 percent of the total.


SIE: So it was still the kind of numbers that Marine Le Pen is doing in the polls right now, up to more than 25 percent.

GORANI: Right, right.

SIE: So these are different figures. Also, this is a country of coalition governments. So we have to make a coalition government as well.


SIE: But I think the big conclusion is that the center struck back in this election.

GORANI: Hans, the center struck back? The center struck back after we saw Brexit, after we saw surprises like Donald Trump in Washington or in the

United States in November? The center now is striking back now? What's going on?

[16:35:04] HANS VOLLAARD, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITEIT LEIDEN: Well, apparently, the Netherlands is quite divided about where should our country

go. So on the one hand, we see the centrist, the D66 Party, pro-European, multicultural, and also the Green Left Party, also pro-European and

multicultural, making quite some gains. Also larger represented in the parliament than the Freedom Party.

So it means that the Dutch voters and the Dutch parliament are quite divided about whether the Netherlands should rather stick to one single

Dutch culture or should be a rather multicultural pro-European country.

GORANI: I'll get to you in a moment, Monika. Let's look at it in a European context because the worldwide interest in this particular election

was due to the fact that we saw, you know, sort of nationalistic, anti- immigrant movements gain or sort of get a lot more support in previous elections. In this case, can we say that the populist wave has kind of

stopped here?

VOLLAARD: Well, we've seen populism in the Netherlands and other European countries before. So I would rather emphasize what are quite differences

between populism in the U.S., populism in the U.K. and the folks for Brexit, for example, and what's going on on the continent here.

So in every country, it's playing out differently. So I wouldn't necessarily say so that it's a wave of populism stopping here in the

Netherlands. No, we've seen before that the Netherlands are divided on cultural issues and they still are.


SIE: Yes.

GORANI: You don't see a common thread? Yes, I'll have you -- you don't see a common thread between what happened with Brexit, the election of

Donald Trump, other results in other countries, and kind of the rise of the support for a candidate like Geert Wilders?

SIE: No. On the contrary, what you saw in the Netherlands, such surface showed that after the Brexit, the support of a Nexit, an exit of the

Netherlands from the E.U., dropped.

GORANI: Right.

SIE: So, of course, we are also in a different position because we are part of the Euro. We are part of the Schengen Corporation so we are way

more involved in the European project than the British are. So I think this effect, kind of shock effect after the Brexit, so quite opposite to

this expectation of, yes, we can for the nationalist parties. What you saw in the Netherlands was more the other way around.

GORANI: So let me ask you this, in what way is this result significant? If not sort of a continuation of some of the populist results we saw

elsewhere, in what way is it significant?

VOLLAARD: Well, it's a clear signal that the Netherlands no way is in favor of a Nexit. A clear majority, also, before these elections and also

after the elections are against the Nexit. It holds for the parliament. And that also holds for the voters.

GORANI: What about immigration and identity? I mean, that was a big issue, right, and not just here in the Netherlands but elsewhere.

SIE: Well, I think globalization, in general, has been a core issue in this election.


SIE: And it has been framed in cultural terms in the last phase of the elections. But globalization, there is, I think, large-scale discontent

with the impact of globalization on the Netherlands, or at least a divide between people who are in favor of an open society and people who feel deep

concerns about the way it's impacting our welfare state, the way it's impacting decent work, and also the relationship between, for instance,

Islam and our secular, rather progressive society.

GORANI: And that's the common thread between so many of these electoral contests?

VOLLAARD: Sure, but I would also emphasize because one of the major aspects of these elections is the dramatic loss of the Labor Party. Other

left parties didn't compensate for the loss of the Labor Party. And that is not just a matter of former Labor voters switching to culturally right-

wing voters but also that they're quite insecure about and quite uncertain about jobs perspectives.

And I think that's a huge challenge for the new government also, you know, to help those voters --


VOLLAARD: -- to give them an economic perspective.

GORANI: The Labor Party apparently -- and this can change because it's still an exit poll number, and I believe we'll get our second exit poll,

maybe we'll get it in the next few minutes -- performed probably, historically, its worst score today.

And that's not just in the Netherlands. You have left-leaning parties that have lost the support of working class voters in many western democracies.

Where is the failure of the establishment left here? And why?

[16:40:00] SIE: I think what is, again, specific for the Netherlands, it was the third time in the Netherlands that the left, the Social Democratic

Party, ruled with its political enemy, the conservative right party. So you have a government with no clear vision of the future.

And I think, in times of uncertainty, what people want from a government is a clear vision of the society, how globalization is impacting our society

and how are we going to protect our welfare state and our way of living in these circumstances. And if you have two political enemies in one

government --


SIE: -- then it's really difficult to give a clear perspective. And in the Netherlands, this happened three times. And my professor used to say,

if these two political enemies rule together, you give birth to populism.


SIE: Because they do have a clear vision of the future. It might be negative, anti-Islam, anti-E.U., anti-immigration, anti-refugees, but it is

a clear ideology of the kind of society that they want to live in.


SIE: So I think any assignment for a future government is to give this clear vision of the future.

GORANI: Yes. And identity is also the big question. I mean, I spoke to voters and Dutch citizens from many origins, from descendants of Moroccan

immigrants. You know Sylvana Simons, for instance, who has her own smaller party, Artikel 1.

She said something very interesting. She said, what does being Dutch mean and who gets to decide who's Dutch? She said, I'm as Dutch as they come,

and yet you have some people in the society that tell me I'm not Dutch.

And that's, I think, the globalization question of our time, right? I mean, how do you define this identity that is the identity of a western


SIE: Yes.

VOLLAARD: And it's very difficult to find an answer because people have different understandings of what the Dutch nation should be. Should all

Dutch citizens stick to certain traditions, or can we have cultural diversity?

Well, the Dutch parliament will now be the platform to discuss it because, most probably, a migrant party will enter for the first time Dutch

parliament --


VOLLAARD: -- and have clearly different ideas about what the Dutch nation should be from the Freedom Party and from other more culturally right-wing


GORANI: Yes, I mean, that's it. That's really the decision that all countries have to make with globalization and migration, what makes us who

we are?

SIE: Yes.

GORANI: And a country, a unified country.

SIE: Yes, I think you're very right. And all political parties have the assignment to give an answer to that which is consistent with the

tradition, I think.


SIE: And not an imitation of the answer that Wilders gives. So I think the left parties can give a version of collective identity that focuses on

our collective projects, political projects, you know, what is the society about? It's about a welfare state. It's about decent work.

GORANI: Yes. And it's a time in history that you feel things are moving in a way that is significant, right?

VOLLAARD: Yes. But, nevertheless, the Dutch interpretation of what the culture should be, and in particular, according to a radical right populist

party such as the Freedom Party, is still much different from many other radical right-wing parties across Europe because the Freedom Party is much

more emphasizing women rights, gay rights, western freedoms against the left of Islam.

GORANI: With an actual hatred of Muslims.

VOLLAARD: Oh, absolutely. Yes.

GORANI: Absolute hatred of Muslims which, to many people, is rather shocking.


SIE: And even going against the democratic constitutional state in that respect.


SIE: No freedom of religion, freedom of speech.

GORANI: Thank you so much, Monika Sie, Hans Vollaard. It's been absolutely fascinating talking to the two of you. And thanks for being

with us and helping us cover this breaking news as we continue to digest some of these exit poll numbers.

Just to reiterate, we have the party of the incumbent Prime Minister coming out on top. The party of Geert Wilders tied for second place with two

other parties. The Green Party doing extremely well as well, coming in third after the first four parties.

Don't forget, you can get all the latest news and analysis. We'll post some of it on our Facebook page,

As I mentioned, we have some news out of Syria. It's the sixth anniversary of the beginning of the revolt. Suicide bombers strike in the capital.

We'll the latest on the violence. We have a live report coming up ahead. Stay with us.


[16:46:47] GORANI: Well, we've just got an updated exit poll here in the Netherlands. It backs up the one we've already brought you. I must remind

you that it was done for the Dutch national broadcaster, NOS.

Here's a look. It projects the Freedom and Democracy Party first. That is the party of the Prime Minister Mark Rutte. Now, that means Geert Wilders'

party did not come in first. It came in tied for second place, alongside the Christian Democrats and the D66. It is a three-way tie for second.

Remember, as with any exit poll, it may not be precise enough to predict the final outcome. And this poll was not commissioned for CNN. It was

commissioned for the national broadcaster. But as I mentioned there, the first exit poll and the second one are pretty much identical. We'll have a

lot more.

Oh, and I want to bring you, by the way, a tweet by Geert Wilders who did not come in first, whose party did not come in first. He essentially has

said, "PVV voters, thanks. We won seats, first victory is in. Rutte hasn't gotten rid of me yet." Rutte being the incumbent Prime Minister.

This coming from the leader of the Freedom Party, the anti-immigrant, anti- Islam, Geert Wilders.

Now, to Syria, a violent and deadly day in capital of Damascus as suicide blasts ripped through a courthouse and a restaurant. Syrian state

television citing police say at least 25 people were killed. Here is the aftermath. And it happened at the Palace of Justice.

The bombings come as the Syrian conflict enters its seventh year. It is hard to believe the first protests in the southern part of the country

happened on this day in 2011.

Our Jomana Karadsheh joins us now live with the latest. And Jomana and I did cover the beginning of these protests, didn't we, Jomana? And it's

just hard to believe that six years on, the absolute nightmare that this country has descended into is entering its seventh year.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An absolute nightmare, Hala, and those protests seem like a lifetime ago. And today, marking this

anniversary, another bloody day. Reports of air strikes in different parts of the country, but also these suicide bombings reported in the capital,


According to state media, it was two suicide bombings, one with a suicide bomber who attacked the Court of Justice. This is in a part of the capital

that is very busy, very crowded, and we do know that there is always a lot of heavy security presence in this part of the capital. So there will be a

lot of questions about how a suicide bomber managed to get to that Palace of Justice.

As you mentioned, at least 25 people were killed in that attack according to state media. A short time after that, there was another suicide bombing

attack that targeted a restaurant in the northern outskirts of Damascus. And we were told, according to state media, there were casualties but there

were no specific casualty figures.

So far, Hala, no one has claimed responsibility for today's attacks. But it's worth noting, today's attacks were the fourth suicide bombings to

strike Damascus since Saturday.

GORANI: All right. Jomana Karadsheh in Istanbul monitoring the story.

[16:50:03] In just a few days, we could learn a whole lot more about investigations under way in Washington involving President Donald Trump.

The FBI Director James Comey will testify in public at a congressional hearing next Monday along with the Director of National Security.

Lawmakers want to know what they know about Russia's meddling in the election and whether they have any proof of Mr. Trump's claims that he was

wiretapped last year. Listen.


REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: Evidence still remains the same that we don't have any evidence that that took place. And in fact, I don't

believe, just in the last week of time, the people we've talked to, I don't think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: To date, I have seen no evidence that supports the claim that President Trump made that his predecessor had

wiretapped he and his associates at Trump Tower. Thus far, we have seen no basis for that whatsoever.


GORANI: All right. There you have it. Some lawmakers there on Capitol Hill giving their take on whether or not they believe there is any evidence

to back up that claim, saying they don't believe there is.

Coming up, more on the major election here in the Netherlands. We'll check back with our political cartoonist. He's been gauging the mood here since

polls closed. We'll see what he drew for us.

Very high tech. It's happening on an iPad. We'll be right back.


GORANI: Welcome back. Another look at our updated exit poll and our breaking news this evening. I just want to remind you it was done for the

national broadcaster here in the Netherlands, NOS.

Here is a look. Now, even though he's lost support, the party of the incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte has come out on top. Big sigh of

relief for him, for sure. There were polls suggesting that Geert Wilders, the anti-Islam, anti-immigrant, anti-E.U. candidate would come out on top.

That didn't happen according to this exit poll.

We have a tie for second place which is why you're seeing 2, 2, 2. A tie for second among three parties, the Christian Democrats and the D66. So

we're seeing the D66, the centrist, pro-European party, doing well as well in addition to the party of the current Prime Minister.

As with any exit poll, obviously, this is not the final number. It's not as precise as it will be in the end. And the poll was commissioned for the

broadcaster, not CNN.

All right. At the beginning of the hour, we introduced you to Tjeerd Royaards. He's a political cartoonist. He's been drawing his opinion

since the polls closed, and he joins me now.

All right. So I had an opportunity -- Tjeerd we're going to put it up full screen for our viewers to see what you drew.


GORANI: Let's take a look at it. It is up now, so talk to us about this.

ROYAARDS: OK. Cool. So what I drew --

GORANI: I think I recognize this hairline.

ROYAARDS: Yes. This being the first election -- important election in Europe since Trump. I drew the hairline of Trump as a ski ramp. And Geert

Wilders is jumping on his skis off the ramp, and he is looking to get high because, in a lot of ways, he wanted to profit from the sector Trump won

and get in the lead here in the Netherlands as well. And it seems he didn't succeed, so I kind of did a cartoon about that.

GORANI: Essentially, he's kind of like ski jumping but not going up as high as he would have wanted and kind of potentially coming down back to

earth a little sooner than anticipated.

ROYAARDS: Yes. Exactly.

GORANI: What do you make of the result yourself as a Dutch citizen?

[16:55:03] ROYAARDS: Well, I think most cartoonists are progressives, some more left-leaning than right-leaning, so I'm really happy with the Greens

and their win. And I'm, you know, kind of happy that the incumbent president won or the Prime Minister --

GORANI: Prime Minister, yes.

ROYAARDS: -- won because I just didn't want to see Geert Wilders become the biggest.

GORANI: Now, there were polls suggesting Geert Wilders might actually come in first, right?

ROYAARDS: Yes, yes. There were.

GORANI: I mean, even though nobody would work with him in a coalition, it would have meant something --

ROYAARDS: Oh, yes.

GORANI: -- if he had come in first, but he hasn't.

ROYAARDS: Yes. So that's exactly --

GORANI: But why do you think he hasn't, though? Because I have heard many different explanations. One was that Dutch people looked at Trump, for

instance, then say, well, we don't like that model necessarily. Or others said, well, Mark Rutte has addressed some of my immigration concerns so now

I'm happy voting for him. What do you think it is?

ROYAARDS: I think it's a range of reasons actually. But I think that the first commenter said, that strategic voting plays an important part in the

Netherlands, and it does. I think that has to do with it. The fact that we just had a clash with Turkey and the Prime Minister came out on top of

that, that helps or has helped his party, I think. So, you know, it's all these different reasons.

And I think, at the heart of it, I also hope it has to do with the fact that the voters want to see a future together and not an" us versus them"

future as the populists would like to see it.

GORANI: Now, I asked some very distinguished academics about what it means to be Dutch, what it means to be from the country you live in in a western

democracy with globalization and more immigration. What does it mean to be Dutch?

I got very academic responses, which were fascinating, but I'd like a more emotional one. What does it mean to you to be Dutch?

ROYAARDS: To me, personally -- and it's, you know, just purely a personal opinion -- it's about tolerance. It's being the first country on earth to

have gay marriage. It is about innovation in terms of respect for human rights, in terms of sustainability.

So it's all these things that we're proven to be good at, you know, being a front-runner in terms of green economy, being a front-runner in terms of

human rights. That's what I'd like to see. And for me, that's what the Netherlands should be about.

GORANI: And do you think that this election, in some ways, proved that that's --

ROYAARDS: It's a step in the right direction.

GORANI: -- that that's the case?

ROYAARDS: You know, if the greens go from four seats in parliament to 16, that's a good sign, I would say.

GORANI: OK. Well, we have those exit polls. The numbers might still change, but we've been told by experts that they usually are pretty close

to some of those exit poll numbers.

Tjeerd Royaards, the cartoonist, thanks so much for joining us. And thanks for that really fun cartoon featuring Donald Trump's hair as a ski ramp.

Great having you on. Thanks so much.

ROYAARDS: Thank you.

GORANI: All right. We're going to have a lot more of our breaking news here from the Netherlands after a quick break. I'm Hala Gorani. I'll see

you on the other side.

I will be joining Richard, and "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is coming up. Stay with us.