The definitive Ipsos poll put the Christian Democrats on 15.2% and D66 on 15.6%, ahead of Geert Wilders’ anti-EU PVV, which went down from 17% to 12.2%. The ruling VVD are up from 11.4% to 12.3% in the poll.
D66 leader Alexander Pechtold said the results showed that the Netherlands had convincingly voted in favour of Europe. Geert Wilders had campaigned on a ‘quit the EU’ ticket and is hoping to form a European alliance with other populists and far-right parties.
Geert Wilders said his party had been hit by the low turnout. ‘65% of the PVV voters stayed at home,’ he said in a speech to party supporters. ‘So we cannot conclude the Netherlands has become more pro Europe.’
The PVV had been forecast to score similar results to D66 in opinion polls prior to the vote.
The official results will not be published until Sunday evening, ahead of the end of voting in most of the rest of the EU.
The European Commission wants the Netherlands to keep the results secret because of fears they could influence other EU voters. Britain, where anti-EU party UKip is forecast to do very well, also voted on Thursday.
The Netherlands is electing 26 Dutch members of the European parliament.
According to the definitive exit poll, which is based on anonymous repeat voting at 44 representative polling stations, the Dutch result will be as follows:
CDA (Christian Democrat): 4 (was 5)
PVV (anti-immigration): 3 (was 4, then 5 when NL was given an extra seat)
VVD (right-wing Liberal): 3 (was 3)
PvdA (Labour): 3 (was 3)
D66 (Liberal democrat): 4 (was 3)
GroenLinks (left-wing green): 2 (was 3)
SGP/CU (orthodox Christian): 2 (was 2)
SP (socialist): 3 (was 1)
PvdA (animal rights): 1 (new)
50+: 1 (new)
An exit poll published by the Maurice de Hond polling organisation came up with slightly different percentage votes but the same pattern of seats in Brussels.