First polls close in European Parliament election

A man casts his ballot for the European Parliament elections at a polling station in Bratislava, Slovakia, 24 May 2014. Photo: EFE/EPA
Polls have closed in some of the 21 countries voting on the final day of the European Parliament elections.
Germany, France, Poland and Spain all voted as the four-day poll came to a climax. 
The election is the biggest exercise in multi-national democracy in the world.
One of the parties expected to do well, France\’s National Front, said it was leading in exit polls – but accused the French government of vote-rigging.
Leader Marine Le Pen said after seeing exit polls: "Clearly we are in the lead".
But a statement by the party accused Interior Minister Manuel Valls of trying to prevent the National Front winning "by the most odious means".
The parliament\’s powers have expanded since the last election in 2009.
Since Thursday the UK, the Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Malta and Slovakia have held elections for members of the European Parliament.
The 751 seats are allocated in proportion to each country\’s population.
The vote will affect the lives of the EU\’s 500 million citizens, and the chamber has much more power than it used to.
It is a co-legislator, with government ministers from the EU\’s 28 member-states, in most policy areas.
One of the first tasks of the incoming parliament will be to elect a new president of the European Commission, the EU\’s executive body.
Source: BBC and  agencies
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