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Elections: European elections started – polling stations in the Netherlands open

Elections: European elections started – polling stations in the Netherlands open

Around 360 million eligible voters, 720 representatives and a parliament: the European elections are starting. Which majorities can be organized in the future will have a decisive influence on new EU laws.

The European elections have begun. In the Netherlands, polling stations opened this morning. Around 13.5 million citizens will be the first to cast their vote for the members of the European Parliament. A clear shift to the right is expected. According to polls, the radical right-wing PVV of the populist Geert Wilders could become the strongest force in a European election in the Netherlands for the first time.

Citizens of the remaining 26 EU member states can cast their vote in the coming days. The Netherlands will be followed by Ireland and the Czech Republic, and one day later by Italy, Latvia, Malta and Slovakia.

On Sunday, the majority of the 360 ​​million or so eligible voters will vote – that’s when the Germans will also go to the polls. In Germany, polling stations are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., as they are for federal elections. For the first time in Germany, 16-year-olds will be allowed to vote in a European election.

Setting the course for the next five years

The majorities that the future 720 members of parliament can organize in parliament have a decisive influence on new EU laws. Parliament had to approve many current projects, such as the ban on combustion engines or controversial nature conservation and climate laws. Parliament also has a great deal of influence on the distribution of money, for example the billions in EU agricultural subsidies.

However, most laws are negotiated together with the EU states and must also find a majority in the so-called Council. Representatives of the respective national governments make decisions there. The European elections have no direct influence on the majority situation in this institution.

Von der Leyen hopes for a second term

However, Parliament can influence the composition of the EU Commission after the election. The authority has the sole right to propose specific EU legal acts, which are then negotiated by Parliament and the EU states. It is initially the responsibility of the heads of state and government to make a proposal for the president. However, Parliament can reject this.

The favorite is the incumbent German EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (CDU). The other leading candidates for the Commission presidency – for example the Luxembourg Social Democrat Nicholas Schmit or the German Green politician Terry Reintke – are given little chance. There is only some speculation that French President Emmanuel Macron could propose the former Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi as an alternative to von der Leyen.

At the same time, however, it is hard to imagine that Parliament would ever again accept a candidate who was not previously nominated by a party family. In 2019, this meant that von der Leyen had to wait until the last second for her election in Parliament and in the end only received nine more votes than she needed.

Results not before Sunday

The first forecasts for the Netherlands are expected this evening at 9 p.m. According to the polls, the radical right-wing Party for Freedom (PVV) of the populist Geert Wilders will be the strongest force, followed by the red-green alliance of the social democratic Labour Party and the green GroenLinks. Wilders’ anti-European anti-Islam party only got one seat in the Brussels parliament five years ago. But in November, Wilders surprisingly won the parliamentary election in his own country and will now form a coalition with three other right-wing parties.

In Germany, recent polls indicate a clear election victory for the CDU and CSU. The AfD came in second place, ahead of the SPD and the Greens. However, results can only be announced when the polling stations in all EU countries are closed. That is on Sunday evening.

Source: Stern

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