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First popularity test for new Dutch government

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First popularity test for new Dutch government

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The Dutch Prime Minister has cast his ballot in local elections that are seen as a test of his goverment’s popularity, three months after coming to power.

As well as voting for regional politicians, the public is choosing members of the upper house, the Senate.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende leads a centre-left coalition that includes the Christian Democrats, the Labour Party and another small Christain party.

Some observers say the government could lose its majority in the Senate if the opposition Socialist party and Liberals make the gains predicted by some experts.

It is feared the abstention rate in these elections could be below 50 percent.