Thursday

17th Jan 2019

Commission criticises Dutch for early results publication

  • Dutch Prime Minister Balkenende's centre-right party came out first, according to the preliminary results (Photo: Wikipedia.org)

The European Commission on Friday asked the Dutch authorities for clarification regarding the publication of preliminary results in the Netherlands ahead of 7 June, when the results of all 27 member states are supposed to be announced.

Dutch media cited preliminary results on Thursday evening after the Netherlands closed its ballot boxes, indicating an unexpected boost of the far-right, which came in second with almost 17 percent of the votes, while the ruling Christian-Democratic party came in first with 20 percent.

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The Dutch, along with the UK, were the first to go to the polls, with the Irish and Czechs voting today (5 June) and the rest of the member states over the weekend. Results are supposed to be announced at 10pm on Sunday.

"There is a ban on the publication of any results ahead of 7 June, be they preliminary, partial or complete. These results cannot be released to the media or pollsters until the elections. This does not prevent the media to take stock and publish private exit polls", EU commission spokesman Amadeu Altafaj said at a press conference on Friday.

But he refused to speculate on potential sanctions the commission could apply. In general, any breach of EU legislation is referred to the European Court of Justice.

During the last EU elections in 2004, Dutch authorities escaped a so-called infringement procedure after releasing unofficial results. They cited national legislation which requires authorities to release partial results as soon as they are available.

"The events that took place in the Netherlands yesterday seem not to comply with the spirit of the European elections. They're supposed to go beyond the purely national aspects. If we want citizens to understand the European nature of these elections, we think it's absolutely essential that we release the results in all countries at the same time, also in order not to influence the vote in the countries which have not voted yet – and that at the moment is 25 out of the 27 member states," Mr Altafaj added.

A spokesman for the Dutch ministry of Interior confirmed on Friday that his government was "currently discussing" with the EU commission and would "give explanations" on the publication of early results.

"When we have elections, we consider that voters have the right to find out the results rapidly. It's not a matter of official results, these are early and incomplete counts," Tijs Manten, spokesman for the ministry of Interior told AFP.

The final results would be published on Tuesday by the electoral council, he added.

An EU source quoted by the French news agency on Thursday said that this time round the commission is seriously considering opening an infringement procedure, unlike in 2004.

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