The EU is confronted with populists when Britain and the Netherlands are the first to go to the polls
Polls opened Thursday in the UK and the Netherlands when the vote began to determine the composition of the European Parliament.
Voting notes will be issued in the 28-country bloc until Sunday, placing pro-European centrists against an upcoming tide of populism and Euroskepticism.
It goes against the background of Britain trying to find its way out of the trade bloc after the Brexit referendum.
Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch Freedom Party and a nationalist figurehead, casts his vote in The Hague on Thursday at the vote in the EU elections
Polling stations opened Thursday in the Netherlands (Amsterdam airport, in the photo) and the United Kingdom and will continue in all 28 member states until Sunday
Voters are asked to choose MEPs who are part of the EU's 751-member parliament in what is announced as an election to determine the future of Europe
Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch Freedom Party and one of Europe & # 39; s most outspoken nationalists, cast his vote in The Hauge on Thursday morning.
Hours before, he had attended a rally with other populist, nationalist and extreme right-wing leaders in Milan, where they issued a cross-continental battle cry against the European Union.
Matteo Salvini, leader of the Lega Nord party in Italy; Marine Le Pen, from the national rally of France; and Jorg Meuthen, representing the far-right AfD of Germany, also attended with leaders from six other nationalist parties.
Apart from Salvini, who acts as the vice-prime minister of Italy in a coalition, all their parties have not been given power in domestic elections.
Large profits in the European elections – where systems with proportional votes often favor smaller, less established parties – would send a message to Brussels about the direction in which the continent is moving.
The pro-European bloc is led by German Angela Merkel and French Emmanuel Macron, who insist that unity is the best buffer against shifting economic and security interests of an emerging new world order.
Hoping to overthrow the European former guard are a coalition of nationalist, populist and extreme right-wing leaders including the Dutch Geert Wilders (left), the Italian Matteo Salvini (center), the German Jorg Meuthen (second right) and the French Marine Le Pen (far right). )
French President Emmanuel Macron has positioned himself as Europe & # 39; s most important pro-EU politician, after Angela Merkel announced her intention to resign
In the Netherlands (pictured) the Forum for Democracy party of the eccentric populist Thierry Baudet stubbornly runs together with Prime Minister Mark Rutte & # 39; s centriste VVD party
Populist parties have largely failed to come to power in domestic elections, but strong action in the European elections would send a signal about where the continent is going.
President Macron says the challenge is not to give in to a coalition of destruction and disintegration. it will try to dismantle the unity of the EU built up over the past six decades.
Thursday morning the British laboratory technician Jeremy Corbyn issued a message with the warning & # 39; extreme right is on the rise & # 39; and added that & # 39; the actions we are taking now will have a huge impact on our future & # 39 ;.
Voters across Europe choose a total of 751 legislators, although that number will decrease to 705 when the UK leaves the EU.
The Dutch are only 26 at the moment and 29 after the Brexit.
The UK has 73 European legislators who would lose their jobs if their country completes its messy divorce from the EU.
The results of the four days of voting will only be officially released until Sunday evening, but the Dutch national broadcaster NOS will publish an exit poll after the ballot boxes close on Thursday evening.
The Netherlands can give a snapshot of what is to come. Polls show the right-wing populist Forum for Democracy, led by charismatic intellectual Thierry Baudet who runs neck-and-neck with Prime Minister Mark Rutte's center-right VVD party.
While the country, a prosperous trading nation, benefits from the EU's open borders and internal market, it also makes a major contribution to the EU treasury.
Britain was not scheduled to participate in the election after it announced its intention to leave Europe on March 29, but after a failure of the negotiations now taking place
Nigel Farage & # 39; s newly formed Brexit party leads the polls, amid the warning that something other than a strong anti-EU show will be used as a reason to hold a second Brexit referendum
The issue of EU membership is still grinding Britain, with the remaining voters in London (pictured), while regional voters prefer leaving
The elections will be continued throughout the EU until Sunday, when the results will be announced (photos, campaign posters in Belgium).
Skeptical Dutch voters in 2005 rejected a proposed EU constitution in a referendum.
Baudet, whose party emerged as an unexpected provincial election winner in March, identifies more with the harsh Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban than with the nationalist populist movement led by Salvini.
However, in a debate on Wednesday evening, Baudet Salvini mentioned a & # 39; hero of Europe & # 39; because of his tough fight against migration.
& # 39; The immigration we get here from Africa and the Middle East is completely at odds with our culture, our values, our way of life, tolerance, love for women and so on, & # 39; he said.
& # 39; That must stop and it will not happen at European level. & # 39;
Meanwhile, in the UK, the ruling conservative party – which has conducted the shambole Brexit negotiations in the country – is being supported for an election outbreak, amid speculation that Prime Minister Theresa May could be forced into power.
The Brexit party of Nigel Farage voted strongly before the vote, with the Euroskeptic figurehead warning that anything but a strong anti-EU result will be used as a reason to hold a second referendum on the Brexit.
Pro-Remain Liberal Democrats – who have called for a second referendum – have talked well about recent local elections, so the result is far from certain.
A separate group of MPs from both Labor and Conservative parties campaigning for Remain under the name Change UK has further complicated the image.
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