Sunday, May 26, 2019

EU elections

+++ EU elections – live updates on the final day of voting +++

Voters in 21 EU countries are heading to the polls to elect members of the European Parliament. Stakes are high as far-right groups and Euroskeptic populist parties aim to gain ground. Read the latest here.

A woman walks past an advertising board for the EU elections near the European Parliament in Brussels
  • Europeans from 21 countries have started voting on the fourth and final day of the EU parliamentary elections.
  • The results should be clear late on Sunday, with exit polls in Germany expected at 1600 UTC.
  • The Netherlands, the UK, Ireland, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Malta and Slovakia have already voted.
All updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC)

Spain's acting PM Sanchez casts his vote in Pozuelo de Alarcon, outside Madrid (Reuters/S. Vera)
Spanish caretaker Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says that he hopes the outcome of Sunday's European and local elections will lead to more "political stability" for Spain as he starts his attempt to form a government.

08:45 Voting in Belgium is obligatory, as DW EU correspondent Georg Matthis pointed out on Twitter. Voting is also compulsory for both nationals and registered non-national EU citizens living in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece and Luxembourg. 

08:20 Seats in the European Parliament are allocated out proportionally, based on each member state's population. Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta have the fewest seats with six each, while the EU's most populous member, Germany, has 96 seats. The results from member states will be released this evening after the last polling station in the bloc is closed. 

07:45 The election will hopefully strengthen anti-immigration political forces across Europe, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said after casting his vote in Budapest. "I hope that there will be a shift in the European public arena in favor of those political parties who would like to stop migration." Orban rejects any redistribution of refugees across the bloc 

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his wife Aniko Levai cast their ballots during the European Parliament Elections in Budapest (Reuters/B. Szabo)
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his wife Aniko Levai cast their ballots in Budapest

07:15 Support for the Green Party surged in Ireland — where the vote was held on Friday — putting the Greens on course to win as many as three European seats, according to an exit poll for broadcasters RTE/TG4. European Greens co-lead candidate Bas Eickhout spoke of a "green wave" rolling on to Irish shores from the Netherlands, where an exit poll put GroenLinks' (GreenLeft's) share of the vote up to 10.5%.
06:40 The European Parliament forms the democratic basis of the European Union. It plays a key role in electing the president of the European Commission and ensures EU institutions are working democratically. The Parliament shares power over the bloc's budget and legislation with the Council of the European Union, which represents the governments of member states. Elections to the Parliament take place every five years and voter turnout has been steadily declining. In 2014 it was the lowest ever — just 42.5%.

European parliamentary elections explained

06:25 Around 400 million people are eligible to vote for 751 MEPs who will serve for the next five years and help shape Europe’s future. There's a lot at stake. The issues of Brexit, immigration and the rise of right-wing parties across the bloc could bring some surprises and make these polls the most important since the first direct elections 40 years ago.
06:00 Polling stations in 21 EU countries, including major EU states of Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Poland, have opened.
Read more: EU election: Europeans head to the polls across the continent
Voting is also taking place in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Sweden.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel prepares to cast his vote for the Belgian general and regional elections and for the European Parliament Elections in Limal (Reuters/Y. Herman)
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel prepares to cast his vote for the Belgian general and regional elections and for the European Parliament Elections in Limal

Four-day continent-wide elections
The Netherlands and the UK headed to the EU polls on Thursday — the first day of election — followed by Ireland and the Czech Republic on Friday and Latvia, Malta and Slovakia on Saturday.
A total of 420 million EU citizens are eligible to cast their ballot in these elections.
According to exit polls, the Netherlands' center-left party of EU Vice President Frans Timmermans won the most votes and added two seats to the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) bloc in the EU Parliament.
In Britain, hundreds of non-British EU citizens were turned away from polling stations on Thursday after being told they were not registered to vote in the UK for the election. The British government is now facing a potential legal challenge over the denial of votes to EU citizens.
As Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Poland send almost half of all MEPs to the European Parliament – 348 out of a total 751 – the Sunday vote is dubbed the most crucial of all rounds. Opinion polls suggest that far-right groups and Euroskeptics could gain more strength in the European Parliament, with populist parties such as Marine Le Pen's National Rally in France and Matteo Salvini's Northern League in Italy are expected to perform well in the polls.
Read more: Opinion: The EU's future and the European Parliament vote
kw,shs/jlw (Reuters, dpa, AP, AFP)

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