EU Elections Begin with Netherlands Leading the Way

EU Elections Begin with Netherlands Leading the Way
EU Elections Begin with Netherlands Leading the Way/Reuters
EU Elections Begin with Netherlands Leading the Way
EU Elections Begin with Netherlands Leading the Way/Reuters

EU Elections Begin with Netherlands Leading the Way

EU Elections Begin with Netherlands Leading the Way

EU Elections Begin with Netherlands Leading the Way

Key Highlights:

  1. The Netherlands kicks off EU elections, marking a crucial democratic event.
  2. Rise of hard-right parties expected to influence the European political landscape.
  3. Nearly 400 million voters across 27 EU nations to elect 720 MEPs.

The Netherlands has initiated the European Union parliamentary elections, setting off four days of voting across the 27 member states, as reported by The Washington Post. The Dutch polls opened today, making them the first to vote in a significant democratic exercise expected to spotlight the rise of hard-right parties.

Estonia has already commenced its voting period, which lasts six days starting from Monday. However, the Netherlands stands out as the only EU country to start its single-day vote this early. Ireland will follow on Friday, with the remaining EU nations voting over the weekend. Election results will be announced on Sunday night, revealing the outcomes from all member states.

The Dutch election comes six months after Geert Wilders’ far-right Party for Freedom made significant gains in the national parliament, causing ripples across Europe. Current polls indicate that Wilders may continue to capitalize on this momentum, potentially setting a trend for the broader European political landscape.

Since the last EU elections in 2019, populist and far-right parties have gained prominence, leading governments in three EU countries or participating in coalitions in others. This trend highlights a surge in public support for these parties across the continent.

The EU elections, the world’s second-largest democratic exercise after India’s, involve nearly 400 million voters who will select 720 members of the European Parliament. These elections will shape policies on global issues such as climate change, defense, migration, and international relations with major powers like China and the United States.

Geopolitical dynamics have shifted significantly since the last elections, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine bringing conflict to the EU’s fringe. Ukraine’s aspirations to join the EU further underscore the union’s crucial role in maintaining regional peace and stability.

Despite being an EU founding member, the Netherlands has seen growing dissatisfaction with EU policies among its citizens. While a majority of Dutch people favor remaining in the bloc, there is a strong sentiment for greater self-sufficiency.

As EU voters are anticipated to lean towards the right, the Christian Democrat-dominated European People’s Party, led by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, remains the largest bloc in the EU legislature and is poised to play a key role in coalition formation post-elections.

In the Netherlands, Wilders’ PVV may expand its success into the European arena, potentially surpassing the combined strength of the Labour Party and Green Left. In the 2019 Dutch EU Parliament election, Labour secured 19% of the vote, earning six seats, while the Greens claimed 11% and three seats. Wilders’ party, which only managed 3.5% of the vote with no seats, is now gaining support, particularly from farmers protesting against EU regulations.

While Wilders previously advocated for a Dutch exit from the EU, his party’s current manifesto calls for reform from within, aligning with other hard-right parties across the bloc.

The allocation of MEPs varies by member state population size, ranging from six seats for smaller nations like Malta, Luxembourg, and Cyprus to 96 seats for Germany. Following the UK’s departure from the EU in 2020, the number of MEPs decreased from 751 to 705, with some seats reallocated to other member states.

MEPs play a critical role in shaping EU legislation across various areas, including climate, banking, agriculture, fisheries, security, and justice. They also influence the EU budget, which is essential for implementing European policies, including aid to countries like Ukraine.

After the election, MEPs will convene to elect their president during the first plenary session from July 16-19 and nominate the president of the European Commission, based on member state proposals. In 2019, Ursula von der Leyen narrowly secured her position as the first woman to lead the European Commission.

Source: Washington Post

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