Dutch Pro-European parties are predicted to triumph in the European Parliament election against populists, an exit poll on Thursday has unexpectedly revealed.
Dutch Labor Party PvdA of European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans is forecast to win five out of the 26 seats allocated to the Netherlands, according to an Ipsos exit poll for public broadcaster NOS.
It’s a surprise victory for Timmermans, whose euroskeptic challenger Thierry Baudet – who has been described as the “suave new face of Dutch right-wing populism” – had been topping the polls in this year’s election.
“To all our friends across Europe still campaigning, this one is for you too! Keep going! Keep believing! We can do this!” Timmermans tweeted on Friday.
The exit polling took place at 35 polling stations, where around 56,000 voters are eligible to cast their ballots according to Ipsos. It says it usually receives a 80-85% participation rate and has an error margin of 2%.
PvdA, according to the exit poll, is predicted to have received 18% of the vote – doubling the amount of votes it received in the 2014 EU election, while Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) received 15% and Baudet’s far-right Forum for Democracy finished third at 11%.
CNN affiliate NOS also reported that voter turnout was the highest it has been in 30 years.
The United Kingdom and the Netherlands went to the polls on Thursday to determine the future direction of the EU with remaining countries casting their ballots on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The election has been described to be a pivotal moment for the EU as it confronts the threat of nationalists and populists across the continent, and as the drawn-out Brexit process continues to dominate the political agenda.
Official results will be announced late on Sunday after polling stations across the EU close.