Polling stations open for European elections

People in line at an Amsterdam polling station to vote in the European Parliament elections, 23 May 2019
People in line at an Amsterdam polling station to vote in the European Parliament elections, 23 May 2019. (Photo: NL Times)

The first polling stations for the European elections in the Netherlands are open. The first votes have already been cast in Castricum, traditionally the first polling station to open in elections held in the Nehterlands. There voters can cast their vote from midnight, NU.nl reports.

The polling stations in Breda and Nijmegen opened at 5:15 a.m., and those at the train stations in Meppel, Roermond and Zwijndrecht opened at 5:30 a.m. Most other polling stations are open from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Voters can cast their votes at a total of 63 train stations in this election. Remember to take your voting pass and proof of identity. People who want to vote outside the municipality they live in, also need a special pass for that - a so-called 'kiespas'.

Over the coming days the residents of the European Union will choose 751 members of European Parliament, who will serve for the next five years. The Netherlands currently has 26 seats in the European Parliament. That will increase to 29 once the United Kingdom leaves the EU. Most of the Dutch MEPs represent their own political party from The Hague. These various political parties are also affiliated with European political groups, in which parties from different Member States share roughly the same political ideals and ideas. 

The Christian Democrats (EPP), to which the CDA belongs with five seats, is currently the largest group in European Parliament. Second comes the traditionally large group of Social Democrats (S&D), with which the PvdA is affiliated with its current three seats. The polls show that this election may shake up this political landscape. The EPP and S&D currently hold 53 percent of the seats, but the polls expect that to drop to 44 percent. The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), to which the VVD belongs, is currently the third largest group. The polls expect the ALDE to win considerably in this election. The D66 also belongs to this group.

The European Parliament elections will be held across the EU Member States over the next few days, from Thursday to Sunday. The United Kingdom, like the Netherlands, will vote on Thursday. But most other countries are voting over the weekend. The final result will follow on Sunday evening or Monday morning. The first exit poll in the Netherlands is expected on Thursday evening. 

The turnout for the European elections in the Netherlands is traditionally low. The previous European Parliament elections had a turnout of only 37.3 percent, compared to the parliamentary elections for which the turnout is usually around 75 percent. 

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