By 15.30, some 24% of the electorate had turned out to vote in the crucial Dutch provincial elections, according to broadcaster Nos.
That is 4% down on four years ago, according to calculations by opinion pollster Ipsos.
The first polling stations opened at 05.00 hours at Castricum and Nijmegen train stations in an effort to catch early commuters. Most polling stations opened at 07.30 and will close at 21.00 this evening.
As soon as the polling stations are closed, broadcaster Nos will publish the results of its preliminary exit poll, forecasting the likely make-up of the new senate.
The 12 new provincial councils will go on to elect the 75 members of the senate in May. This means their role is crucial – the current coalition government does not have a majority in the upper house of parliament and relies on the help of opposition parties to get legislation through.
Opinion polls predict the results will be close. The ruling VVD are marginally ahead but the anti-Islam PVV, the Liberal democrats D66, the Socialists and the Christian Democrats are all level pegging.
DutchNews.nl will report on the results in a live blog as the evening continues.
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