5th Jul 2020

Netherlands to release EU election results early

  • Exit polls will begin to give some idea of the make-up of the parliament as early as the evening of 4 June (Photo: EUobserver)

Despite EU officials' best efforts to maintain suspense about who has won the European elections until all European polling stations close on Sunday (7 June) evening, results will begin dribbling out as early as 4 June.

Under EU law it is illegal to announce official results until all EU voting ends at 10 p.m. Brussels time on Sunday, but the Netherlands - which together with the UK is the first EU member state to vote - intends to release preliminary results as soon as its polls close at 9 p.m. Brussels time on 4 June.

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"There are different views on this matter," Ruben Brandveldt of the Dutch mission to the EU told EUobserver. "The European Commission is not happy because we will be releasing the results."

"But the article in question says that member states are not allowed to publish official results. In our view, this doesn't prevent the publication of preliminary results."

Mr Brandveldt said that the Hague and Brussels were currently in discussions over the matter, but the debate is likely to conclude after the end of poling in the country.

The commission for its part said it was unwilling to prejudge what the Netherlands would do ahead of the elections, "But the rules on this are really clear: member states cannot present official results before polling stations close," the commission's justice spokesman, Michele Cercone told EUobserver.

"If we see any breach in the Netherlands or elsewhere, we will follow up promptly," he added.

The Netherlands in the 2004 elections bucked the EU law and released its official results early, citing transparency imperatives.

The commission at the time declined to issue an official rebuke. But the Dutch move was seen then as now as harmful to EU attempts to engender a sense of common European identity by organising one big-bang election result.

The UK, also voting on 4 June, intends to abide by the EU law. But broadcast media are expected to publish exit polls within minutes of British polling stations closing, at around 11 p.m. Brussels time.

Despite a widely predicted low turnout, the British vote will be closely watched domestically to see whether the governing Labour Party is pushed into fourth place behind the opposition Conservatives, the centrist Liberal Democrats and the eurosceptic UK Independence Party.

A heavy beating in the EU election could accelerate the holding of a general election.

Ireland and the Czech Republic both vote on 5 June, although the latter holds the vote over two days, ending 6 June. National media are not expected to publish exit polls before the 7 June EU deadline however, according to the European Parliament's press service.

Cyprus, Italy, Latvia and Malta vote on 6 June, with Italy's vote also spread over two days. Exit polls are likely to come out in Cyprus at 7 p.m. Brussels time on 6 June. But the other three will keep results quiet.

On 7 June, when over three quarters of Europeans head to the voting booth, a rash of exit polls are expected to be released in the early evening - long before the 10 p.m. Brussels time official cut-off.

In Austria, the first polls will be released around 5 p.m Brussels time, while next door in Germany, exit estimates should be broadcast some time before 6 p.m.

Bulgarian exit polls are expected at around 6 p.m and in Greece shortly after 6 p.m. Hungary will broadcast results at 7 p.m. Romania meanwhile should see broadcasts around 8 p.m.

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