About the government

The King and the ministers together make up the Government of the Netherlands. The ministers and state secretaries are responsible for the day-to-day business of government. On 26 October 2017 the third government led by Mark Rutte took office.

Constitutional monarchy

The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy. This means that the head of state is a King or Queen whose powers are laid down in the Constitution.

In the Netherlands the powers of the monarch are extremely limited. Under the Constitution, the ministers, and not the monarch, are responsible for what the Government does.

Ministers and state secretaries

The government consists of ministers and state secretaries. Each ministry is headed by a government minister. There are also ‘ministers without portfolio’, who are not in charge of a ministry. They work for a ministry headed by a different minister.

A minister may be supported by one or more state secretaries, who are entrusted with some of the minister’s tasks. The job descriptions of the state secretaries are published in the Government Gazette after their appointment and often change from government to government.
If a minister is absent, a state secretary will usually stand in for them. The state secretary will, for example, attend Cabinet meetings in the minister’s place, but does not have the right to vote.

A state secretary also attends Cabinet meetings if the agenda includes a topic for which he or she is responsible.

Ministry responsible