THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) – Polls opened Thursday in the Netherlands, the start of four days of voting. European Union Parliamentary Elections Among the 27 member states that are expected to achieve stricter rights.

Geert Wilders from the far-right Party for Freedom, or PVV, was among the first senior politicians to cast his vote. After sending shockwaves across Europe six months ago by becoming the largest party in the Dutch national parliament, they are now looking to build on that popularity. accent for most of the blockWith calls to take back powers to national capitals and move away from the EU so that member states have more autonomy over issues such as migration.

Ironically, like many of the bloc’s hard-right parties, it wants to gain more powers in the European Parliament, so that it can undermine EU institutions from within.

“You also need a strong presence in the European Parliament and make sure that, if necessary, we follow the European guidelines to be in charge of our immigration policy and asylum policy,” Wilders said after the vote. can change.” In The Hague

That is why he was urgently calling for a broad coalition of hard-right parties to break the traditional coalition of Christian Democrats, Socialists, pro-business liberals and Greens.

“Creating a larger group in the European Parliament,” Wilders said, “gives us the power to change all these European regulations so that we can be more in charge of it ourselves – here in the national parliaments.”

Wilders, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and French opposition leader Marine Le Pen stand in stark contrast to the left and many centrist parties, who have called for a more unified European approach on everything from climate change measures to defense. are, arguing that individual nations are only a weak voice on the global stage.

“It’s important that the EU is a good and strong partner,” said Jared Krone, 66, who works for The Hague municipality and voted for the pro-European party Volt in city hall. “We all have to work together. Not only in Europe but also in the Netherlands.

Since the last EU elections five years ago, populist, far-right and extremist parties now lead governments in three EU countries, are part of government coalitions in several others, and seemingly across the continent. Increasing public support.

There are EU elections. The world’s second largest exercise in democracy Elections in India are behind and at stake.

Some 400 million voters will elect 720 members of the European Parliament from beyond the Arctic Circle to the edges of Africa and Asia. The findings will have implications for issues ranging from global environmental policies and defense to migration and geopolitical relations with China and the United States.

There was some early voting in some countries, but the Netherlands is the only EU country to start its one-day vote so early, followed by Ireland and the Czech Republic on Friday and the rest of the EU over the weekend. The results will be announced across Europe on Sunday night after all member states have finished voting.

Since the last European elections in 2019, war has erupted on the fringes of the bloc following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a country it desperately wants. Joining the European Union.

A founding member, the Netherlands has long been staunch in its support of EU policies. Research by the Clingendael think tank, however, shows dissatisfaction with the EU among Dutch people, and that while most believe the Netherlands should remain in the bloc, many also believe it should be more. Must be self-sufficient.

Although many voters are predicted to tilt to the right, the Christian Democrat-dominated European People’s Party, led by European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen, is currently the largest bloc in the EU legislature. And the ally is bound to be the kingmaker when the dust settles. election results.

In the Netherlands, Wilders’ PVV could potentially overtake the combined Labor Party and the Green Left, based on its domestic success and growth. Labor topped the 2019 Dutch EU Parliament elections with 19% of the vote for six seats, while the Greens won 11% and three seats. Wilders’ party won only 3.5 percent at the time and no seats.

Wilders and one of his potential allies, the Peasant Urban Movement, are popular among them. Farmer In the Netherlands, who have staged regular protests to demand relaxation of EU legislation, they say it is affecting their livelihoods.

Wilders has in the past called for the Netherlands to leave the European Union, as Britain did, but there is no mention of so-called Nexit in his party’s manifesto for elections starting on Thursday. Instead, it urges voters to back the PVV so that it can transform the EU from within, similar to the plans of many other hard-right parties in the bloc.

The number of members elected in each country depends on the size of the population, from six for Malta, Luxembourg and Cyprus to 96 for Germany. In 2019, Europeans elected 751 legislators. Following the UK’s departure from the EU in 2020, the number of MEPs is reduced to 705. Some of the 73 seats previously held by British MEPs were redistributed to other member states.

Lawmakers, known as Members of the European Parliament, or MEPs, can vote on a wide range of legislation covering banking rules, climate, agriculture, fisheries, security and justice. They also vote on the EU budget, which is important for the implementation of European policies, including, for example, Aid was provided to Ukraine..

After the elections, MEPs will elect their president at the first plenary session on 16-19 July. Then, probably in September, they will nominate the president of the European Commission, following a proposal from member states. In 2019, van der Leyen narrowly won the vote to become the first woman to head the institution. she is Looking for a second term.


Raf Casert contributed from Brussels.

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