Whilst primarily known for its tulips, canals, and dairy products, in recent months the Netherlands has been making the news for its upcoming general elections. Every four years, citizens make their way to the ballot box to vote on who will run the Northern European nation. Don’t let the country’s minute size fool you – with over 17 million people living in a country that boasts the world’s 25th biggest economy, this election could have ramifications both at home and abroad. But how do these elections work? And more broadly, how does the government and parliament in the Netherlands function?
Politics of the Netherlands
Like many other countries in the region, the Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy with a King at the Head of State. Their role is largely ceremonial, with the monarch’s main job being to smile on camera and kiss babies.
The Parliament actually runs the show and is divided into two Houses. The lower house is the House of Representatives, and that’s whom people are voting in this March. There are 150 members of parliament, and parties are given seats based on what percentage of the vote they receive. While a government needs 76 seats to form a majority, a single party very rarely achieves this and therefore must form a coalition. The House’s main role is to check the work of the Government. They can both propose bills themselves, or amend ones put forth by the government.
The other chamber is the senate, who are not directly elected by the people. The senate consists of 75 members who are elected by the members of the twelve States Provincial. When the House of Representatives wants to pass a new piece of legislation, it’s the Senate’s job to approve or reject it. So if you’re in the government, you really want to ensure that you have lots of like-minded partners in the Senate, or your legislation will have trouble getting passed.
Allocating the Seats
A party needs a minimum of 0.67% of the popular vote to gain one of the 150 seats in Parliament. There are numerous parties on the ballot, but any party that fails to reach this threshold will have until next time to see their political dreams realized.
All Dutch citizens above the age of 18 are eligible to take part in elections, amongst other things. Voters can go to voting stations in their municipality and select the party of their choice. The most common method is using a paper and red pencil, so the Dutch are still keeping things old fashioned. There have been efforts to introduce electronic and online voting, but alas, to no avail.
While Dutch voting system remains old-fashioned, yours don’t have to be. If you’re in an organization that is looking to hold an election, why not conduct it online with POLYAS? Get in contact with our election experts today!
With elections taking place on the 15th of March, the next week will be very important for the Netherlands. POLYAS will be back with more insight regarding all things Dutch and elections soon.