PARIS (Reuters) – Outgoing French President Francois Hollande on Thursday congratulated the Netherlands’ centre-right Prime Minister Mark Rutte, saying that Rutte’s likely election win was a victory against extremism.
“The President of the Republic warmly congratulates Mark Rutte for his clear victory against extremism,” Hollande said in a statement issued by his office.
Rutte’s victory may help to ease concerns in mainstream French political circles over the popularity of France’s far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, with France’s presidential election due in April and May.
Current opinion polls show Le Pen winning the first round of the election in April, but then losing a decisive second round vote in May to either centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron or conservative candidate Francois Fillon.
(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Richard Pullin)