EU member states vote in European Parliament elections

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Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte votes at a polling station in Rome, Italy, May 26, 2019. The European Parliament (EU) elections started in Italy on Sunday. [Photo/Xinhua]

Voters in Germany, Lithuania, Cypriot Bulgaria, Greece and Italy cast their ballots on Sunday in elections to the European Parliament (EP).

Citizens of the 28 European Union (EU) member countries, among whom over 400 million voters are eligible, are expected to vote over the course of four days, starting from Thursday, to elect 751 members of EP (MEPs) for a five-year term.

Germany's Green Party gaining popularity

The competition for the 96 seats in the EP is being taken seriously in Germany this year compared to the previous election cycles. A total of 41 German parties are registered for the election.

The polling stations are open from 08:00 a.m. local time (0600 GMT) to 06:00 p.m. local time (1600 GMT).

The election takes place in a climate of deep uncertainty about the stability of the EU in the wake of Brexit and the spread of Eurosceptic sentiment. Germany, with the largest population in the EU, felt obliged to voice their opinions.

A surge in support for Germany's Green Party is expected to lead to its winning of 17 percent of the votes, a big improvement from its around 10-percent share, according to the poll by Infratest Dimap.

Many voters are attracted by their pro-EU policies, humane stance on migration and firm position on tackling climate change and environment protection.

Lithuanian traditional parties to win

Polling stations are open from 7 a.m. local time (0400 GMT) to 8 p.m. (1700 GMT), with approximately 2.49 million eligible voters across the country, according to the Central Electoral Commission.

Sixteen parties and election committees -- an alternative form for the citizens to run for elections without establishing a party -- compete for 11 seats in the EP.

According to the latest public polls, traditional parties are to win the elections.

Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, the country's ruling party, gained 21.1 percent of the votes, followed by the Homeland Union-Christian Democrats gaining 20.5 percent of the votes, showed the survey conducted by Baltijos tyrimai in April.

Lithuania's Social Democratic Party ranks third with 11.4 percent of the votes, according to the poll.

Lithuania's elections to the EP are held alongside the runoff on Sunday.

Cypriot to elect six deputies

Cypriot voters will elect six deputies to the EP, Chief Election Officer Kypros Kyprianou said Sunday, adding that polling stations are open from 8 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) to 6 p.m. (1500 GMT).

Official results will be announced after midnight, when polling stations in all EU countries will close.

This election has two highlights -- large numbers of Turkish Cypriot voters, and whether the extreme right will manage to enter the EP for the first time by taking a seat traditionally held by EDEK Socialist Party.

This is the first time Turkish Cypriots are expected to take part in an electoral process organized by the Cypriot authorities since they pulled out of the internationally recognized government of Cyprus in 1964 to form their own breakaway administration.

Kyprianou said that the electoral authorities expect about 10,000 Turkish Cypriots out of a total of 81,000 eligible voters to cross the buffer zone to cast their ballot papers.

A total of 641,000 people in Cyprus are eligible to vote, the electoral authorities said they fear that the abstention may be as high as 60 percent, despite a big campaign organized by the EU and Cypriot authorities to encourage voters, especially young people, to vote.

Public opinion surveys suggested that two of the seats will go to the center-right ruling DISY party, two to the opposition left-wing AKEL party, and one to the center DIKO party.

The sixth seat will provide the biggest excitement, as three parties -- Socialist EDEK, the Greens in coalition with another small party, and extreme-right ELAM party -- have equal possibilities to win the seat, according to the latest opinion polls.

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