In the Netherlands, some polling stations are swamped because turnout is so high. Some are even running out of ballots, according to Europe Elects.
The polls had been open just six hours when the turnout was estimated at 33 per cent, far higher than five years ago, according to pollster Ipsos.
It is one of the closest parliamentary votes in memory, with five parties vying for the top spots. A win for the outspoken anti-Islam anti-EU Geert Wilders, leader of PVV (Partij Voor Vrijheid) could send shockwaves through Europe.
“It will be a very interesting day, a lot is at stake in Holland and I hope of course we’ll win but whether we win or lose I think we put our mark on the elections so far. But it’s a sunny day, I hope a lot of people go and vote, it’s the most important think for democracy and I hope my party does well but we have to wait and see,” Wilders said.
The vote is widely viewed as the first test of anti-establishment sentiment in Europe after the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election.
Something which the Dutch prime minister from the liberal VVD party is keenly aware of. He told reporters:
“This is a chance for a big democracy like the Netherlands to make a point to stop this toppling over of the domino stones of the wrong sort of populism and there is still a risk that we wake up on Thursday morning and seeing that Geert Wilders is leading the biggest party.”
Netherlands: Turnout today to surpass 80%, maybe even 85% (2012: 74.6%). Media reports some station have run out of ballots. #DutchElection pic.twitter.com/oBoJ1o056S— Europe Elects (@EuropeElects) March 15, 2017
With hundreds of thousands of first time voters, and many undecided on the day of the vote, the result could go either way. What is sure, experts say, the Dutch are in for months of bargaining to build a coalition.
This graph from 2012 Dutch election suggests high voter participation hurts geertwilderspvv. Turnout significantly up so far today. #tk17 https://t.co/YvGcy0S4uf— Tom Nuttall (tom_nuttall) March 15, 2017
Dutch election, what they say