Incumbent Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte looks to be on track to win a fourth term in office, with his conservative party leading a first exit poll. The Netherlands election has been dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, with voting extended to prevent further spreading of the virus.
Prime Minister Rutte’s VVD party was projected to take 35 out 150 seats in the lower house, a clear mandate to form a new coalition government.
The pro-EU, centre-left D-66 was seen coming in second place at 27 seats, the exit poll showed.
The initial numbers from the poll indicated Mr Rutte will need to form a coalition with at least two other parties to get a majority of 76 seats in parliament.
Among major parties, the anti-Islam Freedom Party of lawmaker Geert Wilders was set to lose three seats, coalition member Christian Democrats lost five, and Labour was flat.
The Netherlands is one of the first major European Union economies to hold elections during the COVID-19 crisis.
To prevent further spreading of the virus, voting was held over three days.
In the Netherlands, COVID-19 has killed more than 16,000 people in the nation of 17 million.
Currently, there is a night-time curfew in place due to continuing high infection rates, and a ban on public gatherings during the day.
So, the campaign was carried out mostly through television debates.
By the end of Wednesday afternoon, turnout was counted at 81 percent, compared to 82 percent four years ago.
However, in this election elderly voters were permitted to use mail-in ballots.
Polls opened two days early to allow for social distancing.