Labor Gains In Dutch Polls After Government Collapses

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AMSTERDAM (Dow Jones)–The latest opinion poll in the Netherlands shows the left-leaning PvdA Labour Party, which supports the withdrawal of Dutch troops from Afghanistan, is gaining popularity in the wake of the collapse of the Dutch coalition government Saturday over that issue.

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, of the Christian Democratic party, Saturday offered his government’s resignation to Queen Beatrix after 16 hours of talks on a request by NATO to extend the service of Dutch troops in Afghanistan to 2011 in a training role failed to save his three-year-old centre-left coalition, the fourth Dutch government to crumble since 2002.

The PvdA Labour Party withdrew from the government, insisting that the Netherland’s; military mission in Afghanistan must end this year as planned, and that the government should reject a NATO request, reiterated Sunday, for a one-year extension.

However, a poll of over 3,000 people Sunday by showed that PvdA Labour, led by Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Wouter Bos, was gaining ground ahead of March 3 local elections and a national election that will now have to be called.

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