Voters in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands are kicking off the European Union’s four-day election jamboree, being the first to cast their ballots to elect the next European parliament.
In Britain public interest isn’t so much in Brussels, but more in whether political outsider, the UK Independence Party (UKIP), come out on top.
Current polls put Nigel Farage and his anti-immigration, anti-Europe stance ahead of Labour and the Conservatives with 27 percent . The recent barrage of criticism accusing UKIP of racial slurs apparently failing to put voters off.
In the Netherlands Geert Wilders and his Freedom party, with their anti-Europe and anti-immigration policies are also expected to make gains.
Wilders has mooted an alliance with Farage, but the British leader has distanced himself from far-right parties saying they come from different political traditions.
So are voters going along with the anti-Europe sentiment?
“I’m not always positive about Europe,” said one woman. “When it all became one union, it didn’t improve things. Since the introduction of the euro everything’s became more expensive. I don’t like that very much.”
On the other hand another voter was more positive:
“We have a lot to be grateful for. There is a negative sentiment at the moment, and I don’t think that’s fair. There were a lot of jobs created and the open borders have done us good.”
By this Sunday all 28 EU members will have voted and no doubt many different issues will have had an impact. But also important is the turn out reflecting whether the great European experiment is alive and well.