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Dutch election results at a glance

Right-wing blonde bombshell Geert Wilders was trounced. But he wasn't the only one. 

Before the Dutch elections, all eyes were on the latest - some would say original - right-wing populist blonde bombshell, Geert Wilders of the Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV). Wilders' party's manifesto promised "de-Islamisation of the Netherlands", including ending all immigration from Muslim countries and closing down mosques. A Eurosceptic, he was also a fan of Nexit. 

The expectation that Wilders would win big was anticipated as much by the far-right as it was feared by the left. Britain's mini-Wilders, former Ukip leader Nigel Farage, popped up on the eve of the Dutch election count to proclaim that "through the Dutch elections, the French elections etc, you will see a continuance of this revolution against global governance".

But in the end, Dutch voters chose a different narrative. At time of writing, the centre-right VVD party prevailed, with Prime Minister Mark Rutte looking forward to a third successive term. "The Netherlands said 'Whoa!'" he declared.

For those on the alternative left, however, the biggest nugget of election gold however may be the fact the Green-Left party sprang up to third place, with an increase of 10 seats.

Pessimists, though, may sense that below the veneer of respectability, the threat of right-wing populism has not gone away. The mainstream left was the biggest loser of the night, going from a major mainstream party to a bit-part player in a single night. 

So what happens next? Here is what you need to know:

Mainstream politicians are celebrating across Europe

The election results will allow mainstream parties to form a governing coalition, and block out the PVV. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff was extremely happy, tweeting "Netherlands, oh the Netherlands, you are a champion!" Martin Schulz, Merkel's centre-left rival, also tweeted his celebrations. 

It's a win for the alternative, not mainstream left

The Dutch Labour party, which had been the junior party in the ruling coalition, had a catastrophic night, losing 29 seats. It now has less than the Green-Left party. Although this party's surge took place in an electoral system very different from Westminster, the UK Greens are celebrating. Co-leader Jonathan Bartley tweeted that it was "really great news proving freedom, a positive and hopeful vision can win votes". 

Geert Wilders is still very much around

The PVV might not have overturned the establishment, but it still came second, with 20 seats - a gain of five. Wilders is a veteran of Dutch politics, and is unlikely to take this as a cue to shuffle off stage. Indeed, as the election results became clear, he tweeted to his 808,000 followers: "We were the third largest party of the Netherlands. Now we are the second largest party. Next time we will be number one!"

Turkey is not impressed

The run up to the Dutch elections has been overshadowed by an increasingly loud spat between Turkey and the Netherlands, over rallies in favour of Turkey's authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. According to AFP, the Turkish government's reaction to the nail-biting contest between a mainstream politician and the man who would persecute Dutch Turks is "there is no difference". 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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Scotland's vast deficit remains an obstacle to independence

Though the country's financial position has improved, independence would still risk severe austerity. 

For the SNP, the annual Scottish public spending figures bring good and bad news. The good news, such as it is, is that Scotland's deficit fell by £1.3bn in 2016/17. The bad news is that it remains £13.3bn or 8.3 per cent of GDP – three times the UK figure of 2.4 per cent (£46.2bn) and vastly higher than the white paper's worst case scenario of £5.5bn. 

These figures, it's important to note, include Scotland's geographic share of North Sea oil and gas revenue. The "oil bonus" that the SNP once boasted of has withered since the collapse in commodity prices. Though revenue rose from £56m the previous year to £208m, this remains a fraction of the £8bn recorded in 2011/12. Total public sector revenue was £312 per person below the UK average, while expenditure was £1,437 higher. Though the SNP is playing down the figures as "a snapshot", the white paper unambiguously stated: "GERS [Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland] is the authoritative publication on Scotland’s public finances". 

As before, Nicola Sturgeon has warned of the threat posed by Brexit to the Scottish economy. But the country's black hole means the risks of independence remain immense. As a new state, Scotland would be forced to pay a premium on its debt, resulting in an even greater fiscal gap. Were it to use the pound without permission, with no independent central bank and no lender of last resort, borrowing costs would rise still further. To offset a Greek-style crisis, Scotland would be forced to impose dramatic austerity. 

Sturgeon is undoubtedly right to warn of the risks of Brexit (particularly of the "hard" variety). But for a large number of Scots, this is merely cause to avoid the added turmoil of independence. Though eventual EU membership would benefit Scotland, its UK trade is worth four times as much as that with Europe. 

Of course, for a true nationalist, economics is irrelevant. Independence is a good in itself and sovereignty always trumps prosperity (a point on which Scottish nationalists align with English Brexiteers). But if Scotland is to ever depart the UK, the SNP will need to win over pragmatists, too. In that quest, Scotland's deficit remains a vast obstacle. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.