, THE HAGUE, Feb 23 – Dutch parliamentary elections are to be held on June 9 after the weekend collapse of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende\’s government over the country\’s military mission in Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday.
"The Queen has asked the outgoing cabinet to facilitate the dissolution of the lower house (of parliament) in the short term so that elections can be held on June 9," the government communications service said.
Balkenende tendered the resignations of the 12 members of the Labour Party (PvdA) to Queen Beatrix on Saturday after the party pulled out of the centre-left coalition demanding the withdrawal by year-end of 1,950 Dutch troops deployed in Afghanistan.
The Queen accepted the resignations of the PvdA ministers said and asked the remaining 12 cabinet members of Balkenende\’s Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), the majority coalition partner, and the three of the smaller Christian Union (CU) to continue performing their functions until elections, the statement said..
Balkenende had also offered to relinquish the CDA- and CU-held cabinet posts.
NATO had asked the Netherlands to extend its four-year-old mission by one year to August 2011, albeit in a different form — a request the CDA and CU had wanted to discuss.
But the PvdA said last week would not support an extension under any circumstances, resulting in a public coalition clash.
The communication service said the six minister\’s portfolios held by the PvdA would be taken over temporarily by three ministers of the CDA and three of the CU.
PvdA leader Wouter Bos\’ finance ministry would be taken over by his CDA deputy, Jan Kees de Jager.