June 16, 2024

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European elections start with a close Dutch race - exit polls

European elections start with a close Dutch race – exit polls

Image source, Sim van der Waal/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Comment on the photo, Dutch Green Labor coalition leaders were happy with the poll results

  • author, Paul Kirby
  • Role, In Brussels

Dutch voters have begun voting over four days across the European Union, with exit polls indicating a close race between the Green Left coalition and Geert Wilders’ populist, anti-Islam party.

Right-wing and far-right parties are widely expected to make significant gains in many of the 27 EU member states, and this appears to have been confirmed in the Netherlands to some extent.

Although the Green Labor coalition is set to gain more seats in the European Parliament according to opinion polls, Wilders’ Freedom Party is on track to make big gains.

But he did not repeat the landslide victory he achieved in the general elections that took place last November.

Under European law, final results are not published until after each country votes late on Sunday evening. About 373 million Europeans are entitled to vote in the second largest democratic elections in the world after India.

The next European Parliament is scheduled to include 720 seats, with each country having seats proportional to its population. Germany will have 96, France 81, Italy 76, and the Netherlands 31.

Dutch opinion polls will be closely watched across Europe for possible trends that may emerge elsewhere on the continent, even though many voters tend to vote on national issues at least as much as on European politics.

A shift to the right was widely expected in these elections, with far-right parties looking to win in France, Belgium, Austria and Italy.

Their opponents are likely to take some satisfaction from Thursday evening’s opinion polls, given the performance of the Greens/Labour alliance. Geert Wilders’ party came first in the Dutch national elections last November, securing a ministerial agreement with three other parties, although he will not serve as prime minister.

Any fundamental shift to the right in the composition of the European Parliament could affect EU policies on climate change, agriculture and perhaps defence.

According to an Ipsos I&O poll of 20 to 30 thousand Dutch voters in 35 polling stations, the Dutch center-left coalition led by former European Commissioner Frans Timmermans is on track to win eight seats, one more than Wilders’ Freedom Party.

However, the margin of error is so large that the race has become very close. The participation rate was estimated at about 47%, an increase of five points compared to five years ago. Before the vote, there was talk of voter fatigue after months of debate about forming a new government.

Wilders said he was happy with the “fantastic result.” He said it was just an opinion poll, but it was clear that the Freedom Party was the big winner, as his party only had one seat in the outgoing European Parliament. Another far-right party, which has been in decline for months, is on track to lose all four of its seats.

However, commentators pointed out that an estimated two-thirds of the votes were taken by pro-EU parties, many of which were centrist or liberal.

Immigration and asylum were the most important factor for Dutch voters, according to Ipsos, and this is likely to be reflected in much of the rest of Europe.

Voters the BBC spoke to in a number of polling stations in The Hague on Thursday spoke about security as well as the wars in Gaza and Ukraine. Many said a stronger European Union was essential in the face of global insecurity.

While a quarter of Dutch voters said they were motivated by European politics, 21% said it was domestic politics, and 48% said it was a combination of both.