Final EU vote: Polls open in 21 countries

Tens of millions of Europeans vote Sunday as 21 countries choose their representatives in a battle between the nationalist right and pro-EU forces to chart a course for the bloc, news wires reported. Greece, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Lithuania and Cyprus were the first to open their polling stations at 0400 GMT.

Seven EU member states have already voted, and provisional results will be released late on Sunday once the rest of the union has taken part in the European parliamentary election.

Eurosceptic parties opposed to the project of ever closer union hope to capture as many as a third of the seats in the 751-member Strasbourg assembly, disrupting the pro-integration consensus.

The far-right parties of Italian deputy PM Matteo Salvini and France’s Marine Le Pen will lead this charge, and anti-EU ranks will be swelled by the Brexit Party of British populist Nigel Farage.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron has taken it upon himself to act as figurehead for the centrist and liberal parties hoping to shut the nationalists out of key EU jobs and decision-making.

Meanwhile, the mainstream parties are vying between themselves for influence over the choice of a new generation of top European officials, including the powerful president of the European Commission.

And Brussels insiders are closely following the turnout figures, fearing that another drop in participation will undermine the credibility of the EU parliament as it seeks to establish its authority.

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