The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

Polls open in 20 EU countries as voting for the European Parliament enters final day

Voters are heading to the polls for the European Union’s election super Sunday amid concern that a likely shift to the political right will undermine the ability of the world’s biggest trading bloc to take decisions as war rages in Ukraine and anti-migrant sentiment mounts. Citizens in 20 countries, from the Alpine nation of Austria to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, will cast ballots to elect 720 members of the European Parliament. Seats in the assembly are allocated based on population, ranging from six in Malta or Luxembourg to 96 in Germany. Official results of the elections, which are held every five years and began in the Netherlands on Thursday, cannot be published before the last polling stations in the 27 EU nations close — those in Italy at 11 p.m. (2100 GMT). Unofficial estimates are due to trickle in from 1615 GMT. An unofficial exit poll on Thursday suggested that Geert Wilders’ anti-migrant hard right party should make important gains in the Netherlands, even though a coalition of pro-European parties has probably pushed it into second place. Since the last EU election in 2019, populist or far-right parties now lead governments in three nations — Hungary, Slovakia and Italy — and are part of the ruling coalition in others, including Sweden, Finland and, soon, the Netherlands. Polls give the populists an advantage in France, Belgium, Austria and Italy. The elections come at a testing time for voter confidence in a bloc of some 450 million people. Over the last five years, the EU has been shaken by the coronavirus pandemic, an economic slump and an energy crisis fueled by the biggest land conflict in Europe since the Second World War. The polls also mark the beginning of a period of uncertainty for the Europeans and their international partners. Beyond the wrangling to form political groups and establish alliances inside parliament, governments will compete to secure top EU jobs for their national officials. Chief among them is the presidency of the powerful executive branch, the European Commission, which proposes laws and watches to ensure they are respected. The commission also controls the EU’s purse strings, manages trade and is Europe’s competition watchdog. Other plum posts are those of European Council president, who chairs summits of presidents and prime ministers, and EU foreign policy chief, the bloc’s top diplomat. Alarabiya

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.