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Polling booths to stay open one hour later
With just two months to go until the elections in Belgium, federal interior minister Joëlle Milquet has announced that polling booths will stay open an hour later to avoid long queues. Polling stations equipped with electronic voting machines will remain open on May 25 until 16.00 rather than 15.00, though stations where voters mark ballot papers with a pencil will close at 14.00.
Milquet decided to add an extra hour because most voters will be choosing candidates in three separate elections – federal, regional and European. That means marking three ballot papers instead of one. “By spreading people out more,” she explained, “we can avoid needless queuing and ensure that everything goes smoothly.”
Meanwhile, the order that parties appear on the voting lists has been finalised following a draw in the interior ministry last Friday by three children – one from each region. The French liberal party MR was picked to appear as party number one, followed by the Flemish green party Groen and the far-right Flemish nationalists Vlaams Belang.
The unpopular last place went to the Flemish Christian-democrat party CD&V. Chair Wouter Beke was quick to respond with a joke: “The last shall be first.”