Mark Rutte
Mark RutteReuters

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is headed toward a victory over rival Geert Wilders in the election, exit polls released on Wednesday evening predicted, according to AFP.

Rutte's Liberal VVD would scoop up to 31 seats in the new parliament, making it the largest party, with Wilders and his Freedom Party (PVV) sharing second place with two other parties by winning 19 seats, the public broadcaster NOS said.

If the results are confirmed, Rutte will likely get the 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.

Despite the loss, the pro-Israel Wilders increased the showing of his party, which had 12 MPs in the outgoing parliament.

Wilders has cited Israel as a source of inspiration in the fight against radical Islamist terror. In his youth he lived for two years on an Israeli Kibbutz, and views Israel as an island of sanity and democracy in a sea of Islamist terrorists, seeking to emulate Israel's responses to its struggles.

He is known for his anti-Islam rhetoric, which has in the past sparked outrage around the Muslim world and prompted death threats that have led to him living under round-the-clock protection.

Wilders’ party had vowed to close mosques and “ban the Quran” in its manifesto.