European elections kick off in Netherlands, UK tomorrow

Ballot box and EU flag
Europe heads to the polls. (Image: vepar5 / DepositPhotos)

This week residents of the European Union will vote for the European Parliament. The elections are held over several days throughout the EU, starting in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom on Thursday.

The fact that the elections aren't all held on the same day, has to do with the different rules around elections in the various EU Member States, according to NU.nl. In the Netherlands, for example, elections are never held on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays - to take account of the holy days of the various religions represented in the country. Other EU countries hold elections on Sunday because that is the day most people have off work. The Czech Republic sets aside two days for voting. 

The European campaign for this election is already done, but there are still two campaign debates in the Netherlands on Wednesday evening. Twelve Dutch party leaders will debate each other this evening. And later in the evening VVD leader and Prime Minister Mark Rutte will debate FvD leader Thierry Baudet. This debate already caused criticism as it only features a right-wing party and a far-right party, and because voters won't be able to vote for either Rutte or Baudet tomorrow as they aren't personally running in this election 

These elections will determine the members of the European Parliament. The European Parliament consists of 751 seats - 750 European parliamentarians and one president - distributed over the 28 member states. The Netherlands currently has 26 seats in the European Parliament. That will increase to 29 once the United Kingdom leaves the EU. 

The European Parliament is the only democratically elected institution of the European Union. Just like the Dutch parliament is a check on the Dutch government, the European Parliament is a check on the European Commission. The European Parliament has influence over around two thirds of the European Commission's legislative proposals, and it exerts that influence in consultation with the governments of all EU countries. 

Around 13.5 million residents of the Netherlands are eligible to vote in the European Parliament elections on Thursday. Of that group, 3.6 percent are not Dutch, but are nationals of one of the other EU Member States. Dutch who live in one of the other EU member states can vote in the country they live in if they registered there for the European elections.

The European elections will be held in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom on Thursday. In Ireland and Czech Republic on Friday. In Czech Republic, Latvia, Malta and Slovakia on Saturday. And in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden on Sunday.

As the elections are held over multiple days until Sunday, the Netherlands will have to wait several days after voting to see the results. Though exit polls will be published in the Netherlands from Thursday. 

If you haven't decided who to vote for yet, NU.nl set up a voting aid to help you see which party matches your viewpoints best. 

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