The European Parliament elections begin with the opening of Dutch polling stations

The European Parliament elections begin with the opening of Dutch polling stations

THE HAGUE: European Parliament elections began on Thursday with the opening of polling stations in the Netherlands, the first of the 27 European Union (EU) member states to vote, Xinhua reported.

A total of 720 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will be elected, with 31 seats allocated to the Netherlands. This election process will continue until next Monday. In most other member states, residents will vote on Sunday.

Polling stations are open from 7.30 local time (0530 GMT) until 9.00 (1900 GMT), with only a few special polling stations allowed to open earlier.

This is the 10th time EU member states have voted for their MEPs, with the first election being held in 1979. Key themes of concern to voters include migration, international defense and security, the fight against crime and terrorism, and climate change.

In the last election in 2019, the PvdA (Labour Party) won six of the 26 Dutch seats in the European Parliament, ahead of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy and the “Christian Democratic Appeal,”  which won four seats each.

In this year’s poll, the right-wing Freedom Party is expected to lead, having won the general election in the Netherlands in November last year with a large majority, becoming the largest party in the country for the first time in history and poised to form a new government with coalition parties.

Preliminary election results are expected to be released as soon as polling stations close for the night. The European Commission stipulated that election results cannot be announced until all EU member states have held their elections by Monday, to avoid undue influence on elections in other countries.

The final official result will be determined by the Election Council in an open session about a week after the election.

Turnout for these elections is traditionally low in the Netherlands—around 40 percent of all eligible voters—about half the normal turnout in House of Representatives elections.

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