Elections in Netherlands Start amid National Covid-19 Lockdown
Today in the Netherlands election polls are opened for the first-ever vote scheduled to last three days, a scheme intended to avoid crowding of people during the country's ongoing lockdown.
Postal voting has also been allowed for the first time for citizens aged 70 and over living in the country. For three days until Wednesday, some 1,600 polling stations will be opene to give ample voting time to an electorate of around 13 million Dutch during the pandemic. However Wednesday remains the main voting day.
Strict protective regulations apply in all polling stations. Tables, cubicles and other objects are disinfected regularly. Voters also had a historic opportunity to use special polling stations for cyclists set up at Amsterdam's exhibition centre.
Bike-voters can cycle right up to the booth, although they had to dismount to mark their ballot papers. Next door, others were able to drive up and vote from their cars - while remaining seated.
The measures were not introduced for voters' convenience, however, but as a health precaution to prevent crowding at regular polling booths. A night-time curfew during the pandemic is to remain in place on all three election days, however exceptions are being made for late voters and polling station staff.
To avoid the risk of queues and crowds at polling centres on Monday and Tuesday, the government is calling on citizens who do not face health risks in the event of a coronavirus infection to vote on Wednesday.
A record 37 parties are standing for election. However it remains unclear if the previous coalition led by Rutte's VVD will secure enough votes for a majority. Results are not expected until late Wednesday evening.
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