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Wednesday, 15 May, 2002, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
Brisk start to Dutch polling
A child casts his father's vote electronically
Electronic voting is used in many polling stations
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By Laurence Peter
BBC News Online, Rotterdam
Voting got off to a brisk start at polling station number 27 in central Rotterdam, where a steady stream of people entered a small church hall to cast their ballots electronically.

The chief election official at the Paradijskerk hall, Richard Honders, said that despite the murder of Pim Fortuyn just days before the election there was no extra security at polling stations.

No police could be seen outside the Paradijskerk hall.

He described voter turnout as "busy," and predicted a final turnout as high as 70 or 80%.

I want Fortuyn to win, because he was different from the others - I like his ideas very much

Fortuyn voter
"It's not even 10 AM and I think we have three to four times more people at the polling station than in previous elections," he told BBC News Online.

"Because of what happened in the past few weeks I think people are interested in politics now.

"Previously it was at a low point, but now everybody is talking about politics in Holland. I think it's a very good thing."

Mr Honders said the result could be "very surprising", and he expected the murdered politician's party, List Pim Fortuyn, to do well.

Some voters leaving the polling station confirmed they had voted List Pim Fortuyn.

"I want Fortuyn to win, because he was different from the others" said Marijke, 65. "I like his ideas very much."

I think there are lots of people who never went to vote, but now because Pim Fortuyn is dead they are coming to vote for him

Johanna Krulder
Christian Democrat voter
Johanna Krulder, 75, said she wanted the Christian Democrats to win. "I'm Roman Catholic and I think they have a good programme. They believe people must be more moral," she said.

"I think this a historic election. I think there are lots of people who never went to vote, but now because Pim Fortuyn is dead they are coming to vote for him."

Gonesh Ashvin, a 23-year-old business student in Rotterdam, said he wanted the Labour Party (PvdA) to win.

"In a couple of years they have done a lot for the country," he said. "Wim Kok is a very good prime minister, and all the other parties are falling apart in my opinion."

He said the death of Pim Fortuyn had had a big impact and "a lot of people will vote for List Pim Fortuyn".

But he said "a lot of people in List Pim Fortuyn are not even qualified to participate in parliament, so that makes it pretty uncertain".

Pim Fortuyn in Rotterdam on March election night
Fortuyn scored highly in March's local elections in Rotterdam
John Martin, 41, said he supported the liberal D66 party. "I'm just a working class man, so I vote for them. The other parties are for the middle class, and I'm not Christian, so I don't vote for the Christian parties."

This is the second time voters at this polling station have used an electronic system, rather than the pen and paper method still used elsewhere in the Netherlands.

Voters select one candidate on a huge electronic pad, then press a red button.

All the candidates standing nationwide are listed on the pad - so a voter in Rotterdam can choose a candidate in Utrecht, for example.

The 15th and last party listed on the pad is List Pim Fortuyn, with 30 candidates.

See also:

15 May 02 | Europe
Holland steps into the unknown
14 May 02 | Europe
Inquiry into Fortuyn's security
13 May 02 | Europe
Fortuyn party soars in polls
11 May 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
The paradox of Pim Fortuyn
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