Sunday

1st May 2016

Focus

Civil society to reveal Dutch results despite EU ban

  • Jacobi Church in downtown Utrecht - one of the ten thousand locations where the Dutch voters can cast their ballot for the European Parliament (Photo: Peter Teffer)

A medieval church in downtown Utrecht is one of the ten thousand locations where the Dutch electorate can cast their ballot for the European Parliament today (May 22).

The members of the polling station will start counting the vote after the polls close at 9pm. The official results will not be published until Sunday evening (May 25) after 11pm, when all member states of the European Union have voted.

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The European Commission thinks that otherwise voters in other member states with a later voting day will be influenced. The vast majority of member states will vote on Sunday.

However, there will be several attempts to give an accurate prognosis. State broadcaster NOS will publish an Ipsos exit poll tonight based on the self-reported voting behaviour of 40,000 voters.

In a more guerilla style attempt at reaching a forecast, two organisations have asked volunteers to attend the counting of the votes in polling stations. While municipalities have been instructed not to make the official result public until Sunday evening, the vote counting itself is public.

Dutch news blog GeenStijl says it has 2,000 volunteers who will attend the counting of the votes in a polling station, because “transparency about the elections is more important than the embargo wishes of Brussels”.

Pollster Maurice de Hond will attempt a similar feat. He has about 500 volunteers, according to national newspaper nrc.next.

Results

Until 11am it has been “rather quiet” in the Jacobi church, with a “gradual flow” of voters, according to the members of the polling station. A large number of voters here are white-clothed nuns who live in the nearby monastery.

An exception is Trudy Wittebol, who is a retired cafe owner from Utrecht. “It's important to vote”, she says. However, standing in front of the church entrance, she is still undecided who will receive her vote. “I will decide at the very last moment.”

The European Commission had expressed concern over the attempts to uncover the Dutch results before other member states have had a chance to vote.

But Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk has defended the operations. “The Electoral Law has no clause to forbid the writing down or filming and then disseminating of what the [polling station] president announces.”

Trudy Wittebol does not share the Commission's worries. “I don't think the results will influence other countries”, she says. “I wouldn't be influenced by how other countries vote.”

With the information technologies that are available nowadays, it will be difficult for other member states to stay unaware of the results in The Netherlands.

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