Netherlands first to vote in EU elections

Henry

Dutch voters today (Thursday) kick off an election marathon that will take place in all 27 countries of the European Union (EU) over the next four days.

An estimated 370 million voters will cast their votes in the European elections over the next four days amid deep geo-political uncertainty in the union. Most Europeans are dissatisfied with the current political order.

The Dutch are already casting their votes today. Countries such as France and Germany will have their turn on Sunday.

However, experts believe that the votes cast in the Netherlands today will be an indication of the support for right-wing political parties, as well as exactly how right-wing the EU parliament can ultimately be.

It is expected that Geert Wilders’ right-wing Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV) will do well in this week’s election.

The Netherlands is just one of a long list of countries where nationalist, right-wing and other Eurosceptic groups are expected to enjoy the most support.

Opinion polls even indicate that right-wing parties can walk away with around a quarter of the new parliament’s 720 seats and finally sway EU policy.

It is expected that the far-right Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party in France, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s far-right Brothers in Italy or Fratelli d’Italia (FdI) party, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s far-right Fidesz party in Hungary will prevail.

It is also predicted that the election result will have an effect on the EU’s approach to climate change, relations with the USA and China and support for Ukraine.

After the dust settles, the EU’s top leaders will have to decide who should hold the union’s top institutional jobs, including jobs at the European Commission.

Ursula von der Leyen, the current head of the European Commission, has her eye on a second term and is considered the front runner at this stage. However, diplomats warn that Von der Leyen’s re-election is not a given.

“These are difficult times and there is a need to move quickly,” says Sebastien Maillard of the Jacques Delors Institute, a French think tank.

“What is at stake is Europe’s ability to embody democracy, to find compromises, to remain sufficiently united … faced with (Russia’s Vladimir) Putin, China and the next US president,” says Maillard.