Dutch open 2009 EU parliament polls

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About 10,000 polling stations opened early this morning will close at 8pm local time.

The Hague – Polling stations opened on Thursday morning in the Netherlands, the first country along with Britain to vote in EU parliament elections, the electoral council said.

"About 10,000 polling stations in the country opened this morning," electoral council official Hanneke Schipper told AFP.

"We have received three reports of small problems, but those have been sorted out and everything is running smoothly," she said.

Polling stations opened at 0530 GMT.

Alongside Britain, where polls open at 0600 GMT, the Netherlands is voting first in elections across the 27-member European Union ending Sunday. Polling stations would close at 1900 GMT on Thursday.

Dutch opinion polls have predicted a low voter turnout not exceeding 40 percent, just slightly higher than 39.1 percent in 2004.

Nearly 13 million voters are registered to elect 25 Dutch MPs out of 736 on the parliament, from 289 candidates on 17 party lists.

One recent opinion poll has projected that the Christian Democratic (CDA) party of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende will get 14 percent of the vote, and its governing partner, the labour PvdA party, 12 percent.

The Party for Freedom of controversial far-right and anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders may get 12 percent of the vote, the liberal VVD 11 percent, and the Socialist Party 10 percent. Eighteen percent of voters are undecided.

The Netherlands will release provisional results after the close of voting on Thursday evening, even as most other EU member states withhold theirs until the EU-sanctioned hour of 10 pm central European time (2000 GMT) on Sunday.

Final Dutch results will be published on 11 June after verification by the electoral council.

AFP / Expatica

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