LONDON – Polling stations across the United Kingdom were open on Thursday for European parliamentary elections, as the political deadlock over the UK’s withdrawal from the bloc continues.
Voting began at 7:00 am and stations were set to close at 10:00 pm, although the results will be announced from Sunday night onwards, after the rest of the members of the European Union have gone to the polls.
The election is being held in a climate of widespread voter apathy over the uncertainty surrounding Brexit; the House of Commons has rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal three times, and there have been calls for a second referendum to be held.
The country had no plans of participating in the elections after voting in a 2016 referendum to leave the European Union. The UK is set to leave on Oct. 31 after asking for a delay from its initial withdrawal date of March 29, 2019.
The UK is obligated to participate in the elections as it is still a member state of the EU.
British voters will have to elect 73 members of the European Parliament out of a total of 751 seats for a term that starts on July 2.
May’s Conservatives in the European Parliament have 18 seats, the same as Jeremy Corbin’s Labour Party, followed by Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party with 14 seats, which earlier belonged to the UK Independence Party.
The rest of the seats are held by other parties, including two of Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party and one of Vince Cable’s Liberal Democrats.