State Structure and Political System of Netherlands

By | April 26, 2022

According to microedu, the Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government. The first Constitution was adopted in 1814. The Constitution of 1983 is now in force, replacing the Basic Law of 1848. Administratively, the Netherlands is divided into 12 historical provinces, and the provinces into 635 communes. Amsterdam is considered the official capital, but the government, parliament, foreign missions have a permanent residence in The Hague. Other large cities: Rotterdam (592 thousand people), Utrecht (233 thousand people), Eindhoven and Tilburg (200 thousand people each). In accordance with the Constitution, legislative power belongs to the monarch (since 1980 – Queen Beatrix) and parliament, which is called the Estates General. The monarch appoints the head of the executive branch – the prime minister – the leader of the party that won the most seats in the parliamentary elections, and, according to him, other members of the cabinet. He also accepts the resignation of the Cabinet, opens the annual parliamentary sessions, appoints the highest officials of the regional and local levels – the High Commissioners of the provinces and the burgomasters of the communes. The monarch is head of the Council of State, an advisory body that advises the cabinet on administrative and legislative matters. However, the rights of the monarch are limited by the Constitution. Thus, the power to dissolve parliament can only be exercised with the consent of the parliament itself. He also authorizes the activity of the monarch in the foreign policy sphere (declaration of war, conclusion of treaties). Parliament consists of the First and Second Chambers. The Second Chamber, consisting of 150 members, has the right to initiate legislation. All citizens over the age of 18 participate in elections. Deputies are elected on the basis of a majoritarian system by direct, universal, equal and secret suffrage. The term of legislature is 4 years. The most recent elections to the Second Chamber were held in 2003. According to their results, the deputy mandates were distributed as follows: CDA 44, PT 42, PNSD 28, Socialist Party 9, Pim Fortuyn List (SPF) 8, Greens 8, D-66 6, others 5. The President of the Second Chamber is elected for the term of the legislature. Since 2003 this post has been occupied by F. Weisglas (NPSD). The First Chamber has a suspensive veto over laws passed by the Second Chamber. Elections to the First Chamber are carried out by the provincial parliaments – the provincial states – on the basis of proportional representation for a term of 4 years. There are 75 deputies in this chamber.

It has the following composition: Christian Democratic Party 20 mandates, NPSD 19, PT 15, Greens 8, D-66 4, other 9. Executive power is exercised by the Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister, who forms the government, directs its activities and bears for it responsibility. The Prime Minister ensures the implementation of laws, is responsible for the country’s defense, represents the Netherlands in the international arena. The Prime Minister is responsible to Parliament. The normal term of office is 4 years. Jan Peter Balkenende (CDA) has been Prime Minister since 2003. Power at the regional level is exercised by the Provincial Council, elected on the basis of proportional representation and carrying out legislative functions on the scale of the administrative territory under its jurisdiction. An Executive Committee is elected from the Provincial Council. Both of these bodies are headed by the Provincial High Commissioner. Management in communes is organized according to a similar principle. Representatives of municipal councils are elected by residents by direct vote, and a municipal executive committee is nominated from among them. They are headed by a burgomaster, also appointed by royal decree. The party-political system of the Netherlands is characterized by a high degree of stability and consensus. There are 16 major parties; 7 of them have been represented at least once in the parliament in the last 20 years. The most prominent role in political life is played by 4 parties. These are the center-right CDA (89,000 members, leader J.P. Balkenende), the liberal PNSD (50,000 members, leader G. Zalm); the social-democratic PT (58,000 members, leader W. Bos), as well as the left-wing Democrats-66 (12,500 members, leader T. de Graaff). A feature of the Netherlands is the constant absence of any one party of an absolute parliamentary majority, which leads to the creation of coalition governments. They usually include 2, rarely 3 batches. Between 1982-2002 the following coalitions were in power: CDA-PPD: 1982-86 and 1986-89; CDA-PT 1989-94; PT-NPSD-D-66 1994-98 and 1998-2002; CDA-NSSD-SPF 2002-03. The parliamentary crisis of 2002, caused by internal disagreements in the SPF party, led to early parliamentary elections (January 2003), during which the SPF suffered a complete defeat. The coalition government was created in May 2003 from representatives of the CDA, PNSD and D-66. The parties that make up coalitions are by no means always close to each other in terms of political orientation. But the national tradition of consensus, the ability to respect different interests and link them in the negotiation process, no matter how difficult it may be, allowed the creation of stable and workable governments by formally distant from each other, demochristians and social democrats, and even more so social democrats and liberals. Against this traditionally calm political and socio-economic background, the quick and obvious success of the small far-right SPF party, which in March 2002 won more than 1/3 of the seats in the Rotterdam municipal council and 2 seats in the parliamentary elections, was a surprise. The main point of the Fortuynovites’ program is the reduction of immigration and the fight against crime, in their opinion, closely related to the influx into the country of representatives of other civilizations who cannot adapt to the Dutch cultural and economic reality. As elsewhere in Western Europe, in the Netherlands there are great difficulties in the adaptation of immigrants. But the urgency of this problem and the lack of proper attention to it from the side of traditional parties is only one of the factors of the protest voting, the clear expression of which in 2002 was the victory of the SPF. The main role here, paradoxically, was played by the strength of political consensus: in the eyes of the voters, traditional parties, with their approximately the same course and the absence of prominent figures among the leaders, hardly differ from each other in ideology and in socio-economic practice. An important element of the Dutch social structure is business associations. There are 4 in the Netherlands; the largest is the Union of Dutch Industrialists and Employers (SNPR), within which at the beginning. 1990s The secular Union of Entrepreneurs (SNP) and the Association of Christian Entrepreneurs of the Netherlands (OHPN) merged. The 150 business associations included in the SNPR – more than 25 thousand companies – cover almost the entire national economy. The SNPR is at the center of the development of state decisions on all major issues of economic and social life, directly participates in the conclusion of collective agreements that regulate the amount and movement of wages, which is of fundamental importance for the Dutch industry, specialized in labor-intensive industries. In addition to the SNPR, there are the Netherlands Agricultural Organization (65,000 members), the Netherlands Trade and Industrial Association (7,000 members) and the Netherlands Association of Electronic and Radio Manufacturers (700 members). The leading role in the Dutch trade union movement is played by the Association of the Netherlands Trade Unions (UNP, formed in 1975 with the merger of the Federation of Dutch Trade Unions close to the Social Democrats and the Democratic-oriented Netherlands Association of Catholic Trade Unions). UNP is the largest organization of workers, includes 17 associations, 1.2 million members. The second most important is the Netherlands National Association of Trade Unions, 11 associations, 359 thousand members. The “white collars” have their own trade union – the Organization of Middle and Top Managers, 150 associations, 25 thousand members. Consensus, pragmatism and exceptional tolerance of the Dutch are constantly manifested in the internal political course of the Dutch governments, incl. and in the last twenty years. The Netherlands was the first on the continent to adopt the ideas of neoliberalism and switched to the practice of Thatcherism and Reaganomics. They were also among the first to abolish the death penalty, adopted effective liberal anti-drug laws. In 2001, the Dutch Parliament was the first in Europe to vote for a law allowing euthanasia. The foreign policy of the Netherlands traditionally reflects their interests as a trading nation. Hence the desire to maintain friendly relations with all countries that adhere to a peace-loving policy and participate in world economic relations. The Netherlands is one of the founding countries of the EU; The Netherlands has consistently supported the expansion and deepening of the process of European integration (for example, the transition to the euro was supported by 77% of the population – the highest figure in the EU). The Netherlands pursues an active policy of assistance to developing countries: 0.7% of GDP was allocated for official development assistance in 2002 (on average for the EU – 0.33%). In international economic organizations, the Netherlands is an active supporter of the liberalization of world trade and the investment process. Within the framework of NATO, the Netherlands follows the Anglo-American course, which was reflected, in particular, in their positive attitude towards the war with Iraq (2003). The armed forces of the Netherlands (51.940 thousand people) consist of the land army, the Navy (12.340 thousand people) and the Air Force (11.300 thousand people). Since 1996, the service has been carried out on a contract basis. In 1995, the combined German-Dutch Air Force (28 thousand people) was created; in 1996, the operational units of the Royal Navy were merged with the Belgian ones under the general command of the Benelux Minister of the Navy. Budget expenditures for national defense needs 1.6% of GDP, incl. 48% – personnel costs, 25% – armaments. The Netherlands is a fairly large (on the scale of a small country) manufacturer of conventional weapons that are used in NATO countries and are also exported to Latin America and the Middle East. The share of the Netherlands in the world arms trade in 1997-2001 averaged 4.3%. The Netherlands have diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation (established with the USSR on July 10, 1942).

Netherlands Politics