By The Associated Press
DUTCH VOTE: Voters were picking a new parliament in a test of support for stringent austerity measures, which are set to influence the way the European Union tackles the debt crisis.
TWO PARTIES LEADING: Heading into the vote, it was tight race between the free-market VVD party of Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the center-left Labor Party led by Diederik Samsom, with smaller parties trailing. The Dutch proportional representation system guarantees a coalition government. Whichever party wins the most in the 150-seat House of Representatives will lead in forming the next ruling coalition.
DIFFERENCES: Rutte is a close ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and supports her austerity agenda for reining in the debt crisis. Samsom is closer to French President Francois Hollande, who favors government spending to spur economic growth.
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