Voters go to polls in Dutch local election and referendum

Dutch voters are choosing new municipal councils across the country in local elections and deciding in a referendum the fate of a law giving intelligence agencies broader powers to intercept electronic data.

Wednesday's voting provides an early popularity test for Prime Minister Mark Rutte's five-month-old four-party coalition, but the outcome is likely to be influenced more by local issues such as parking problems and garbage collection than nationwide themes, and voter turnout often is low.

At the same time as the local elections, the government is organizing a nonbinding advisory referendum on a new law that would grant intelligence agencies far-reaching powers to tap into electronic communications. Opponents say it goes too far, but the government insists it is necessary to fight threats such as terrorism and cyberattacks.