European Union leaders congratulated Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte and voters for striking a blow against nationalism and populism at the ballot box on Wednesday (15 March).
French President Francois Hollande said Rutte's win was a victory against extremism.
"It is also an evening in which the Netherlands, after Brexit, after the USA elections, said stop to the wrong kind of populism".
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (right) and Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders meet Thursday at the House of Representatives to discuss the formation of the cabinet in The Hague.
Rutte himself used a soccer analogy for European politics.
Dr Merkel, who will run for re-election in Germany in September, described the Dutch as "our partners, our friends and our neighbours", and said she was happy at the "very pro-European result" which she maintained was "a signal".
Ville Niinisto, chairman of the Green Party, focused on the success of the green left in the Netherlands.
Forming a government will take months.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte's center-right party is celebrating a resounding win over populist Geert Wilders' Party for Freedom, in a result that's being welcomed by centrists and progressives in France and Germany, which will also hold national elections this year.
Assuming the exit polls reflect the final result, Rutte will get the first chance to form the next coalition and could possibly turn to the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) and the Democracy party D66, which both matched Wilders with a predicted 19 seats.
He said: "This is good news for Europe and for the Netherlands".
However, Mr Wilders warned that Mr Rutte "has not seen the last of me".
Looking around at her fellow Liberal Party campaign workers Wednesday night, Judith Tesser said, "Our people here, we are really very tolerant. Next time we will be no. 1!" he wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
Amid the tussle between Rutte and Wilders, numerous 12.9 million eligible voters had been wavering between the 28 parties running.
"Whatever the outcome of the election today, the genie will not go back into the bottle", he said. "On top of that, Turkish President (Tayyip) Erdogan gave (Rutte) a lovely gift".
The fight erupted over the Netherlands' refusal to let two Turkish government ministers address rallies in Rotterdam about a referendum that could give Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan more powers. Turkey's foreign minister said the views of Wilders - who wants to close all mosques and ban the Koran - were shared by rival parties and were pushing Europe towards "wars of religion".
It remains to be seen if the 30-year-old Klaver will take his party into the next ruling coalition, which looks likely to be dominated by Rutte's VVD and other right-leaning parties.
BEARDSLEY: Those extremists have obviously been worrying the German Chancellor who was clearly relieved at the Dutch results.
Following last year's shock Brexit referendum, and Donald Trump's victory in the United States, the Dutch vote is seen as a gauge of populism on the continent ahead of key elections in France and Germany this year. While Rutte overtook Wilders in the closing stages of the campaign, years of austerity pushed down his share of the vote.
Support for the party appears to have evaporated and the partial count showed it winning just nine seats - well down from the 38 it won in 2012. The first round of voting is set for next month.