The Latest: Polls open in Czech Republic, centrists seek win
BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on the four-day voting in the European Union to fill the 751-seat European Parliament (all times local):
Polls have opened for the European Parliament elections in the Czech Republic, with a centrist party led by populist Prime Minister Andrej Babis expected to win despite the fraud charges he faces involving European Union funds.
The Czechs on Friday opened their two-day ballot for their country’s 21 seats in the 751-seat European Parliament. Voters in the Netherlands and Britain on Thursday kicked off four days of voting across the 28-nation bloc.
Babis’ ANO (YES) movement is predicted to win up to 25% of the vote, followed by the moderate euroskeptic Civic Democratic Party and the pro-European Pirate party.
Babis wants his country to remain in the bloc but is calling for EU reforms.
The country’s most ardent anti-EU group, the Freedom and Direct Democracy party, is predicted to win around 10% of the vote and capture its first seats in the EU legislature.
Protesters are holding rallies in several European Union countries to demand tougher action against global warming, as the 28-nation bloc votes to fill the European Parliament.
Thousands attended a rally Friday in Berlin, where mostly young people waved banners with slogans such as “There is no planet B” or “Plant trees, save the bees, clean the seas.”
Many protesters will be too young to vote when Germans cast ballots Sunday in the European Parliament election, but are pressing family and older friends to consider the world’s long-term future.
Clara Kirchhoff said the election for the EU’s 751-seat assembly was particularly important for tackling climate change on a continental level.
The 17-year-old says “there’s no point in Germany doing a lot for the climate and others not pulling their weight
Ireland is going to the polls to kick off the second day of European Union elections which have already caused a stir in the Netherlands.
According to a surprise Ipsos exit forecast late Thursday, the Dutch Labor Party of European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans will become the country’s biggest party in the European Parliament.
Britain also voted on Thursday, and in neighboring Ireland polls opened Friday morning. The Czech Republic was set to open two days of voting in the early afternoon.
By Sunday night, all 28 nations will have voted and results will start to come in. The vote is seen as a battle between pro-EU parties and those who seek to wrest power from the EU and back to national capitals.
Pro-European Dutch parties were predicted to win most of the country’s seats in the European Parliament, with right-wing populist opponents of the European Union managing to take only four of the nation’s 26 seats.
In a surprise forecast, the Dutch Labor Party of European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans on Thursday became the country’s biggest party in the 751-seat European Parliament, according to an Ipsos exit poll.
The poll was published by Dutch national broadcaster NOS after polling stations closed Thursday evening in Netherlands. Earlier in the day, Dutch and British voters kicked off the first of four days of voting for the European Parliament in all of the EU’s 28 nations.
Official results will only be announced after the last polling station in the EU closes late Sunday.
The Dutch Labor party was forecast to win five seats, while the pro-European center right VVD of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte gained one seat to win a total of four seats. Populists also won four seats.