Reckoning- Dutch and UK voters start 4-day Europe election

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LONDON (AP) Dutch and British voters were the first to have their say Thursday in elections for the European Parliament, starting four days of voting across the 28-nation bloc that pits supporters of

AmsterdamNews.net

Voters across Europe are electing 751 lawmakers, although that number is set to drop to 705 when Britain leaves the EU. The U.K. has 73 European lawmakers, who would lose their jobs when their country completes its messy divorce from the EU.

Results of the four days of voting will not be officially released until Sunday night, but Dutch national broadcaster NOS will publish a Netherlands exit poll after ballot boxes close Thursday night.

On Thursday morning, British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn warned that "the far-right is on the rise," adding that "the actions we take now will have huge consequences for our future."

The British vote may have a direct impact on the future of embattled Prime Minister Theresa May, whose Conservative Party appears to be losing support amid a prolonged Brexit impasse. May has tried but failed for months to get lawmakers in the British Parliament to back her plan to leave the EU.

Both the Conservatives and Labour in Britain were predicted to be heading for an electoral pasting in Thursday's vote, due to the chaos over Britain's impending departure from the EU. Results of the vote will be announced Sunday night, and a poor showing for the Conservatives would increase the calls for May to step down as party leader, which would set in motion a leadership contest.

Britain's Brexit party, led by Nigel Farage, has appeared to gain strength in recent voter surveys. Farage voted Thursday, then declared he hopes to have the shortest possible tenure as a member of the European Parliament because he wants Britain to leave the EU as quickly as possible.

"If you want Brexit, you've got to vote Brexit," he said, warning lawmakers from Britain's two major parties — Conservatives and Labour — that they will be vanquished at Britain's next general election unless they respect voters' desire to leave the EU.

Voting in Britain was marred by the inability of hundreds of the 3 million EU citizens in Britain to vote despite having a legal right to do so. The Electoral Commission blamed the problem on the short notice that officials had to prepare for the election, which would not have been held in Britain if the country had left the EU in March as planned.


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