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Dutch far-right the big losers in EU vote, exit polls show

media Members of the Labour Party (PvdA) of Frans Timmermans celebrate after the exit polls of the European Parliament elections in cafe Millers on 23 May, 2019 in The Hague. Koen van Weel / ANP / AFP

European Union elections in the Netherlands have dealt a blow to populist Eurosceptic parties, according to exit polls which revealed the country’s centre-left Labour party as the surprise winners.

The provisional results give the PvdA, led by Frans Timmermans, five seats in the European parliament – with turnout the highest since 1989 at over 42 percent.

Timmermans is the lead candidate for the European parliament's social democratic grouping.

Along with Britain, the Netherlands was the first of the 28 EU member states to vote in parliamentary ballot. Irish and Czech voters head to the polls on Friday, with the remaining 24 members voting Sunday.

Strict domestic laws in the UK prevent the publication of exit polls for EU parliamentary elections until all member states have finished voting.

While official results won’t be known until late Sunday, the Dutch Labour party has been celebrating victory, toasting what they called an "unexpected comeback".

In national elections in 2017, the PvDA party plummeted from 38 seats to nine.

In other exit poll results, Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Liberal coalition was set to win four seats, with the right-wing populist Forum for Democracy on three seats, alongside the left-wing green party GroenLinks.

The anti-Islam Party for Freedom, led by populist lawmaker Geert Wilders, is tipped to lose three of its four seats.

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