This issue contains 4 sections.
The Netherlands is a parliamentary democracy. Members of parliament are elected by Dutch voters every four years.
Parliament (known as the States General) consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives. It scrutinises the government and is responsible, with the government, for enacting legislation. Legislation only comes into force after it has been passed by parliament. The government and individual ministers are accountable to parliament
Relationship between government and parliament
The monarch and the ministers together make up the government. The ministers and state secretaries (junior ministers) collectively govern the country and implement government policy. The government must have the confidence of a majority of the House of Representatives and is subject to parliamentary scrutiny.
Ministers are accountable to parliament, both collectively and individually. Although this also applies to state secretaries, ministers bear final responsibility.
Confidence in government
The government and individual ministers must enjoy the confidence of parliament. In practice, this applies only to the House of Representatives. Parliament can withdraw this confidence by passing a motion of no confidence. If an individual minister, or the government as a whole, does not enjoy the confidence of a majority in parliament, they have to resign. In the event of a conflict with parliament, the government usually offers its resignation to the King. This often leads to elections and the formation of a new government.
In a dualist system government and parliament are separate, each having its own responsibilities. In the Netherlands, both the government and parliament have legislative powers. There is, however, still a dualist system as ministers and state secretaries may not be members of parliament. The only exception to this rule is following elections, during the formation of a new government.
Senate and House of Representatives
Parliament consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Both houses have a number of rights to allow them to perform their duties effectively. Legislation can only come into force after it has been passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
House of Representatives
The 150 members of the House of Representatives are directly elected by Dutch voters every four years. The House of Representatives has two main duties:
- scrutinising the government;
- approving or rejecting bills.
The House also has the right to introduce or amend bills itself. The government is obliged to provide parliament with all the information it requires to fulfil its duty of scrutiny. This obligation is laid down in the Constitution.
The 75 members of the Senate are elected by the members of the Provincial Councils every four years, following the provincial council elections. The Senate’s main duty is to approve or reject bills. The Senate does not have the right to amend bills.