Prime Minister Mark Rutte is set to play the dominant role in forming a governing coalition in the Netherlands after his pro-market VVD party emerged on top in parliamentary elections, according to an exit poll by national broadcaster NOS.
Early indications pointed to a higher voter turnout than the last election as the Netherlands went to the polls Wednesday after a fiercely contested campaign that focused on identity and cultural values rather than the usual bread-and-butter issues.
The polling station at Castricum just half an hour by train north-west of Amsterdam was the first to open at midnight in the Netherlands, with 97 voters casting their ballots by 1 am (midnight GMT) on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte's liberal VVD is level with the Party for Freedom (PVV) of anti-Islam firebrand Geert Wilders ahead of Wednesday's election according to a poll taken as a diplomatic confrontation with Turkey unfolded over the weekend.
Estonian ex-president Toomas Hendrik Ilves, whose government withstood a suspected Russian cyberattack a decade ago, warned Thursday that major European elections will be the "main battlefield for the next year" of online warfare.
With just two weeks to go until national elections, the Netherlands' Islamophobic Party for Freedom (PVV), headed by firebrand populist Geert Wilders, has lost its top position in opinion polls for the first time this year.
As voters in the Netherlands, France and Germany show increasing support for nationalist, euro-sceptic political movements ahead of this year's elections, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for limits on EU regulations.
Ballot papers in the Dutch general election on March 15 will be counted by hand, not by computer, to prevent a hacking attack from a foreign power, Interior Minister Roland Plasterk said Wednesday in The Hague.