Some 375 million people are eligible to vote in EU electionsImage: AP
The votes are in
June 5, 2009
In violation of EU rules, the Netherlands has released early results in European elections. They indicate that fringe groups, including a far-right party, have taken a large percentage of the vote.
With 92.1 percent of the Dutch vote counted, the right-wing Dutch Freedom Party emerged Friday as the first shock success in the EU-wide parliamentary elections. According to the preliminary results released early Friday in the Netherlands, the populist party won 16.9 percent of the vote and would receive four seats in the European Parliament, becoming the second-strongest Dutch faction after the Christian Democrats.
The Dutch have ignored demands from the European Commission urging them not to count the ballot boxes before that time. The release of the provisional results before the EU-wide polling end on Sunday night is a violation of EU rules.
The Christian Democrats dropped from seven to five seats, though still remain the biggest Dutch party in the European Parliament. The Labor Party held on to three of its previously seven seats.
The Netherlands and Britain were the first countries to begin voting for the European Parliament, on Thursday. Irish and Czech voters go to the polls Friday.
Turnout for the European elections is expected to be higher in Ireland than in any other EU member state. Two-thirds of Irish said they would definitely vote, according to a TNS opinion poll published by the European Parliament on May 26. The EU average is 43 percent.
Cyprus, Latvia, Malta, Slovakia and Italy begin voting on Saturday. On Sunday the remaining 19 EU nations - including Germany, France, and Spain - go to the polls.