Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s party has won the most seats in parliamentary elections, exit polls suggest.
This will be Mr Rutte’s centre-right VVD party’s fourth term, despite his government resigning in January over a child welfare fraud scandal.
The VVD is projected to win 36 out of 150 seats, while centre-left D66 is predicted to have 27 seats, and far-right PVV is expected to have 17.
The final results are due to be announced at 01:00 (00:00 GMT).
Meanwhile the centre-right Christian CDA is expected to win 14 seats, Labour (PvdA) nine seats, and green Groenlinks are projected to have eight seats.
Turnout was high, at 82.6%.
After finding out they were predicted to have the second-highest number of seats, D66’s campaign leader told Dutch broadcaster NOS that the party’s leader Sigrid Kaag jumped on the table with happiness.
Wat een prachtige avond. Jullie steun aan onze idealen en ideeën is overweldigend. Mijn dank is groot.
Ik feliciteer uiteraard ook de andere winnaars van vanavond. Nu aan de slag, de toekomst wacht niet.
Foto: Martijn Beekman pic.twitter.com/UfXQ3SdYT1
— Sigrid Kaag (@SigridKaag) March 17, 2021
This election is widely seen as a referendum on the Dutch government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
More than 16,000 people have died of Covid-19 in the Netherlands, and anti-lockdown protests in the country have turned violent.
A night-time curfew is currently in place, as is a ban on public gatherings in the daytime, in order to try and curb the country’s high infection rates.
As a result, most of the election’s campaigns were conducted through television debates.
On election day, people cast their votes in sanitised ballot booths, and those classed as clinically vulnerable were able to vote early.
The Netherlands is governed by a proportional representation (PR) system.
There are 37 parties in the race, and as many as 15 could get into government.
In order to calculate how seats are divided between the parties, the overall number of votes cast is divided by 150 – the number of seats in parliament.
Any party getting more than that number of votes is guaranteed at least one seat in parliament.