Utrecht provincial councillors have voted in favour of a referendum on cabinet plans to create a super province of Utrecht, Noord-Holland and Flevoland.
The vote took place ahead of a visit by home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk who wants to create the mega province by 2015. He opposes the referendum, but provincial officials say they have yet to hear a good argument in favour of the planned merger.
The merger is included in the coalition government agreement. Ultimately, ministers hope the 12 provinces which currently make up the Netherlands will be reduced to five.
The government hopes the move will make local government more focused and make it easier to develop infrastructure and transport links. Transport and roads are one of the main responsibilities of the provincial authorities.