The European elections start with a neck of the woods

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Dutch voters have begun four days of voting across the European Union, with exit polls suggesting a tight race between a left-green alliance and the party of anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders.
Although the Green-Labour alliance is set to take more seats in the European Parliament according to the exit poll, Mr Wilders’ Freedom Party is on course for big gains.
Under European law final results are not released until every country has voted, late on Sunday evening.
The next European Parliament will have 720 seats, with each country having seats proportionate to their population.
Their opponents are likely to take some satisfaction from Thursday night’s exit poll, because of the Green/Labour alliance’s performance.
Geert Wilders’ party came first in Dutch national elections last November, and has secured a cabinet deal with three other parties, even though he will not be prime minister.
Migration and asylum was the most important factor for Dutch voters, according to Ipsos, and that is likely to reflected in much of the rest of Europe.
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 the two.

POSITIVE

Exit polls indicate that a left-green alliance and the anti-Islamic populist Geert Wilders party are in a close race as Dutch voters begin four days of voting across the EU.

In many of the EU’s 27 member states, right-wing and far-right parties are predicted to make significant gains; in the Netherlands, this seems to have partially materialized.

The exit poll indicates that the Green-Labour alliance will gain more seats in the European Parliament, but Mr. Wilders’ Freedom Party is expected to make significant gains.

He did not, however, repeat his landslide victory from the general election in November of last year.

Final results are not made public under European law until late on Sunday evening, after voting in every nation. In what is arguably the largest democratic election in the world, after India, 373 million Europeans are eligible to cast ballots.

There will be 720 seats in the next European Parliament, with the number of seats assigned to each nation based on its population. It will be 31 in the Netherlands, 96 in Germany, 81 in France, and 76 in Italy.

Notwithstanding the fact that many voters tend to vote at least as much on national issues as on European policy, the Dutch exit poll will be closely watched throughout Europe for any patterns that may arise elsewhere on the continent.

The votes for the EU will be cast over the weekend, with the votes from Ireland and the Czech Republic occurring on Friday.

There has been a general expectation that this election will go to the right, with far-right parties hoping to win in France, Belgium, Austria, and Italy.

Given the performance of the Green/Labour alliance, their opponents are probably satisfied with the exit poll that was conducted on Thursday night. Even though he won’t be prime minister, Geert Wilders’ party won the national elections in the Netherlands last November and has a cabinet agreement with three other parties.

EU policies on climate change, agriculture, and possibly defense could be impacted by any significant shift to the right in the composition of the European Parliament.

Based on an Ipsos IandO survey conducted among 20–30,000 Dutch voters at 35 polling places, the center-left alliance led by former European Commissioner Frans Timmermans is expected to secure eight seats, which is one more than the Freedom Party of Mr. Wilders.

The race is too close to call, though, due to the large margin of error. An estimated 47% of voters turned out, which is a five-point increase from the previous five years. Voter fatigue following months of squabbling over the creation of a new government had been discussed prior to the election.

Mr. Wilders expressed his happiness with the “good outcome.”. Even though it was merely an exit poll, he claimed that the Freedom Party was the clear winner because it only had one seat in the departing European Parliament. With its support declining for several months, another far-right party is poised to lose all four of its seats.

The results of the exit poll demonstrate the extreme polarization of the Dutch vote, with Mr. Wilders, who advocates for less European integration and vows to form a government with “the strongest asylum policy ever,” trailing closely behind a pro-European party that supports climate change policies.

Commentators, however, noted that pro-EU parties—many of them liberal or centrist—had garnered an estimated two thirds of the vote.

As per Ipsos, the primary concern for Dutch voters was migration and asylum, a sentiment that is probably shared by a majority of voters across Europe.

In addition to discussing security, voters the BBC spoke with on Thursday at a number of polling places in The Hague also discussed the conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine. A robust EU was deemed necessary in light of the worldwide state of insecurity by many.

25% of Dutch voters claimed that domestic politics drove them, 21% claimed that European politics did, and 48% claimed that a combination of the two was responsible.

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