Constitution of the Netherlands

The current constitution of the Netherlands dates back to the year 1814/15, as the United Kingdom of the Netherlands was established. Previously there had been constitutions during the French Revolution. She is one of the oldest constitutions in the world are still valid.

The most important change in the constitution that led to the formation of the parliamentary system in the Netherlands is from 1848. As a further milestone is defined as the changes related to the pacificatie of 1917, when the universal suffrage was introduced. The last major revision took place in 1983, at that time a large part of the text has been redrafted.

As the German and the Dutch Constitution is the “Basic Law” (in Dutch Grondwet, the grammatical gender is feminine ). The full title is Grondwet voor het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden.

History of the Constitution
Republic 1579-1795
Bust of Johan Oldenbarnevelt, 1586-1619 raadspensionaris of Holland and therefore the most influential politicians of the former Netherlands

As a result of the revolt of 1568 had become independent the (northern) Netherlands of Habsburg Spain, which in the Peace of Münster was recognized in 1648. The individual provinces were in the Union of Utrecht together, but of this closed Treaty of 1579 provides no constitutional dar. [1] The term ” Republic of the Seven United Netherlands “are to be understood aristocracies, where the patricians of the cities and the country’s nobility leadership occupied. Despite the dominance of the province of Holland and the other provinces had to give their consent to the common policy. In the 17th Century the Netherlands were still considered orderly, safe and reliable, then, as the rest of Europe modernized its management, as old-fashioned and less efficient. [2]

The first Dutchman who thought a constitution in the modern sense of a written constitutional document, originated from the movement of patriotten of the 1780s – the patriots wanted the purposes of education participate in the political power of the bourgeoisie. Model advocating the constitution was in part the development in North America, they pointed out that the long revered Utrecht Treaty document of 1579 features such as popular sovereignty , fundamental rights and lacked a definition of the tasks of government. [3]
French period 1795-1813
Department from 1798

The French Revolution of 1795 marched into the Netherlands and a Batavian Republic was founded. A Staatsregeling voor het Bataafsche people was before 1798, after French pressure had accelerated the negotiations in the Dutch National Assembly. The Constitution was based on French Directorate . However, it was not in the Staatsregeling a slavish imitation of the French Constitution of 1795, it looked like an older historiography, the Velema constitutional law. [4]

Although assumed very extensive Staatsregeling the doctrine of separation of powers , but the legislature had the power to highest. The parliament consisted of two elected chambers. Parliament elected from among five people who formed a kind of government. The provinces were replaced by départements on the French model, between the people and the national parliament, there should be no more instances. 1801 to pressure the French First Consul Napoleon however introduced a new Staatsregeling that followed the constitutional development in France. Moreover, it was not possible to anchor the centralist system in the country.

On the corresponding referendum less than twenty percent of eligible voters participated, which is why you unceremoniously expecting the home left behind as an advocate. [5] The new Staatsregeling from October 1801 strengthened the executive branch, whose members are partly elected by the Parliament and partly by co-option were determined and by the Department . The parliament members were appointed, and the legislative initiative lay with the executive. By a territorial reorganization of the departments now largely corresponded to the old regions and got the old name. As the communities were given the powers of some departments. First time Nationaal Gerechtshof was established. [6]
Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland 1806-1810

Again, it was Napoleon, now emperor, who wanted a new Staatsregeling in the fall in 1804. The government should only have one person at the top, to which Napoleon had chosen the Batavian envoy to Paris, Rutger January Schimmelpennick . With a turnout of less than five percent of the new Staatsregeling 1805 came about. The raadspensionaris ( Grand Pensionary , a term from the time of the Republic) was offset by a legislative body of only 19 members. The rights of the lower levels were reduced again in favor of the raadspensionaris. [7]

Since Schimmelpennincks government did not meet the expectations of Napoleon, the Emperor sent a Kingdom of Holland a, with his brother Louis Bonaparte as king. 1810 Department of the kingdom, however, were from France annexed, as Louis Napoleon the instructions nachkam inadequate. Under the Governor General for the département de la ci-devant Hollande, Charles François Lebrun, prefects were employed in the departments and maires in the communities. [8]

L. Prakke writes a summary about the French time that you experienced the whole gamut of the consequences of the revolution in fifteen years. The forms and institutions of the Old Republic came to an end without the subsequent regime had long enough inventory to put down roots. [9]
The Constitution of the Kingdom 1814/15
The United Kingdom of the Netherlands 1815-1830, together with the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in personal union
King William I of the Netherlands (1815), who reigned from 1815 to 1840
Adoption of the Constitution of the Netherlands, engraving of 1814

After Napoleon’s power began to decline, finished Wilhelm Friedrich , Prince of Orange-Nassau, its almost 19-year exile. On 30 November 1813 (approximately one month after the Battle of Leipzig ) he landed at Scheveningen near The Hague . In order not to jeopardize its incipient reign, he announced on 2 In December, he wanted the sovereignty offered to him only upon adoption of a constitution acceptable. [10] The Dutch government lawyers, it is important to emphasize that the Constitution is not the king imposed was. Even the proclamation of the Lords Kemper and Fannius Scholten, on 1 December 1813 the Orangemen zusprach the sovereignty, have called a Constitution. [11]

The draft constitution was from the lawyers Gijsbert Karel van Hogendorp . In the style of the ancien régime, he spoke of the Basic Law nor often in the plural, in the sense of fundamental constitutional principles. Despite the rhetorical recourse to the old time and the emphasizing of the tradition, however, took its design originating from French time concept of the unitary state. With the corresponding article in the Grondwet of 1814 allows the juxtaposition of old and new, well illustrated: Staten-Generaal De Nederlandsche vertegenwoordigen het geheele people. Although the concept of the States-General was old, but no longer designated as a envoys meeting in the Republic of the Seven Provinces, but a national parliament as in the Staatsregeling of in 1798. [12]

Characteristic of the Grondwet voor de Nederlanden Vereenigde (the Basic Law of the United Netherlands) of 30 March 1814, the hereditary kingship and centrally organized jurisprudence. [13]

As early as 1815 had to be reformed the constitution, because at the Congress of Vienna were the former Austrian Netherlands (later Belgium ) to William’s government. The Grondwet voor het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden, in French: Loi fondamentale du Royaume des Pays-Bas, led the bicameral one, ie the division of Parliament into two chambers. The members of the First Chamber were appointed by the king for life, elected to the Second Chamber for three years, each year one third relinquished. Some new fundamental rights such as the right of petition and freedom of the press were introduced. [14]
Changes in 1840 and 1848
Johan Rudolf Thorbecke (1798-1872), Liberal statesman and reformer of the Constitution in 1848

Due to the autonomy of Belgium in 1830 and the recognition of this fact by the Netherlands in 1839 a constitutional amendment was necessary. The Dutch government wanted to consider only the changed international situation in the revision of 1840 original. But the Second Chamber forced the introduction of at least one criminal responsibility of ministers, according to the ministers had to give her contraseign, their signature royal decisions. Kortmann describes this as a step to “independent, not bound to the royal ministers”. [15] Of significance was the change in the budget: The entire state budget had to be determined every two years, with no difference between ordinary and extraordinary budgets. The change from 1840 contributed to the abdication of conservative-oriented rather absolutist King William I at. [16]
The Dutch Virgin protects the throne and the “Dutch Lion” against the minister. Caricature at De Nederlandsche Spectator, 1866, based on Article 53 of the ministerial responsibility.

A liberal flow under the leadership of Johan Rudolf Thorbecke wanted a constitution that was less focused on the monarch, the direct election of the People’s representatives and political responsibility of ministers. The Second Chamber rejected however in 1844 a corresponding template that Thor Becke College of Negenmannen (nine men) was introduced. [17]

1848, from France a revolutionary movement throughout Europe. Therefore, King consented Wilhelm II a to realize a number of liberal demands. Twelve proposals for amendments of 19 Were published on 11 June 1848 Act in October 1848. This reform established the constitutional structures, as they are still broadly in the Netherlands today. [18] What was new was the political responsibility of ministers, more to give, the obligation of the Minister of the Second Chamber information. Second Chamber, Provinciale Staten (parliament of the provinces) and local councils were directly elected, the first chamber through the Provinciale Staten. The former King William I had the time nor want to influence the organization of the Catholic Church in the Netherlands, but the reformed Constitution now realized the freedom of the Church organization and paved the way for the restoration of the episcopal hierarchy in 1853. [19]

However, it took until 1866/68, until finally no longer the king, but in fact the Second Chamber determined the composition of the cabinet.
extending the right to vote in 1884
Negotiations on the constitutional amendment in the Second Chamber, 1887

The constitutional reform of 1884 (followed by a more detailed 1887) had a major impact on the development of the franchise. Men were allowed to choose the new provision, as if they showed signs of fitness and social prosperity. Opened to the legislature the opportunity to no longer make the right choice on a census basis, so do not make a man dependent on tax revenues. [20]
“Pacificatie” 1917

After 1887 played in political dispute, especially universal suffrage and the school question a major role. Denominational and religious parties were arguing about whether the public and special education should be financially equal footing. [21] In other words, the Protestant and Catholic parties wanted the religious schools, despite private ownership, to be paid by the state.
Pieter Cort van der Linden , 1913-1918 Chairman of the Council of Ministers (the Prime Minister’s 1945 title)

After 1903, 1907 and 1913, efforts had failed to universal suffrage, the parties moved closer to each other in the First World War. While the Cabinet under the nonparty Pieter Cort van der Linden, the crucial agreement was achieved. She went down in history under the name pacificatie (peacemaking). The non-denominational, then mainly the Liberals agreed to the state funding of religious schools, in turn, gave the confessional right after the election. The constitutional reform in 1917 brought the general male suffrage, and the possibility was opened, to be followed by women’s suffrage. Added to this was the change from majority voting to proportional representation, both at national as well as provincial and municipal level. [22]

The year 1917 is the “Pacificatie” after 1848 as the second larger incision in the life Dutch constitution. For the first time after the general male suffrage was elected in July 1918, women were allowed, by law of 1919, select first in 1922. Because of the continuing strength especially the confessional parties changed at first not much, except for the emergence of splinter parties. The introduction of proportional representation, which strengthened by the novel candidate naming the party leadership was thus more important than the general election law, judge, historian JJ Woltjer. [23]
Changes in the inter-war period

The other constitutional amendments until the Second World War are comparatively insignificant. 1922, changed including the system of succession and women’s suffrage, which had been introduced by law in 1919, came into the Constitution. . Reform of 1938 allowed for the appointment of ministers without portfolio, on the other hand could a minister be no Member of Parliament [24] Not by the Second Chamber came the suggestion that “revolutionary” (read: communist) representatives of the people could lose their mandate. [25 ]
Decolonization 1946-1963
Dutch East Indies

From 1940 to 1944/1945, the Netherlands was occupied by Germany, so that Parliament could not meet. The developments in the colony of the Dutch East Indies made ​​immediately constitutional changes necessary. In the reform of 1946, the relations with the overzeese gebiedsdelen (overseas territory of sections) should be replaced as early as 1942, it was announced, we also tried, unsuccessfully, to facilitate constitutional amendments generally. . Important was the change in the then Article 192, therefore could not send conscripts against their will overseas the government [26] But the amendment came into force in August 1947, criticized the historian Loe de Jong, as already two divisions recently – unconstitutional – had been sent. [27]

A major reform took place in 1948 when the legislature was permitted to deviate from the Constitution, provided that the transition to a new legal overseas should make this necessary. This came too late to the developments in the Indonesian war of independence to keep in constitutional pathways. In that year also introduced Secretaries (within the meaning of sub-ministers), and the income of a king who renounced the throne, was regulated. [28] At that time, Queen Wilhelmina had resigned in favor of her daughter Juliana.

Was added in 1954 (see below) a Statute for the Kingdom (the Netherlands and the colonies). In 1956, the Constitution was again due to Indonesia changed: In the sovereignty handover both countries had a Dutch-Indonesian Union under the Dutch crown agreed. This union was never realized finally rejected in 1956 by Indonesia, and now they disappeared from the Constitution. Moreover, the number of Members of Parliament increased in the Second Chamber from 100 to 150 and the First Chamber of 50 to 75 [29]

In the reform of 1963 the dash also Dutch New Guinea out that had recently been transferred through the United Nations to Indonesia. [30]
Later reforms

A partial reform in 1972 dealt with the payments for the king and other members of the royal family, as well as current and former parliamentarians. The right to vote was reduced to 18 years. [31]

Even after the constitutional amendment of 1963, the long lead to major reform of 1983 had begun. [32] published in 1966 a department of the Interior Ministry an entirely new constitutional text, which provoked many reactions. The 1967 used staatscommissie Cals-Donner under the direction of Jo Cals and André Donner presented its final report in 1971, also with a new text, much of which has been incorporated into the later reform of 1983. The Cabinet of Joop den Uyl 1974 laid before the Chambers an appropriate nota. It quickly became clear that no agreement on the issues Cabinet formation and electoral system could be achieved. The so-called First Reading 1976 failed eventually four of 39 proposals, one pulled back the government itself. In the second reading only one proposal was rejected by 34th

On 17 February 1983, the amendments into force. They made ​​the Basic Law shorter and more systematic. [33] The constitutional terminology, unchanged since 1848, has been modernized. The ambiguous word Kroon (Crown) dispensed since the Basic Law, and where the word Koning (king) was used in the government, is now regering (government). [34]

After 1983, it was still 1987, 1995, 1998, 2000 and 2002 constitutional amendments smaller. Among other things, conscription was suspended, and opens up the possibility of international military peace missions.
Content of the Basic Law
Fundamental Rights
Schotelcity (city bowl) in Amsterdam . The so-called anti-discrimination article is often the multicultural society point of reference.

Since 1983, the basic rights that were previously found in various parts of the Constitution, summarized in a catalog of fundamental rights. He was placed at the beginning of the Basic Law (Art. 1-23). Also at that time, and some other classic, first, fundamental social rights were added. [35] In classical fundamental rights the state is forbidden to intervene, for example, a censorship is not allowed. Fundamental social rights on the other hand just require state intervention, some of which are enforceable (the right to social assistance, Article 20, 2). However, both types of fundamental rights can be entangled with each other, the fundamental social right to freedom of choice of employment is also a classic freedom rights. [36]

Nevertheless, there are still fundamental rights in other parts of the Basic Law, the conscientious objection of conscience (Article 99). The abrogation of fundamental rights concerns, and others, Article 103 of the state of emergency. [37] fundamental rights are limited mostly by execution and objective rules, for example, must Article 8 (freedom of association) are restricted in the interest of public order. It is then stated that organ of state has the authority to do so, usually it’s the legislature. [38]

The Constitution begins with the oft-quoted Article 1, the “anti-discrimination article”:

All the bevinden zich in Nederland, was in Gelijke Gevallen gelijk behandeld. Discriminatie wegens godsdienst, levensovertuiging, politieke gezindheid, ras, Sex of withering op grond dan ook, is niet toegestaan.
All persons in the Netherlands shall be treated equally in equal circumstances. No one shall be discriminated against on grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race, sex or other reasons.

For example, that a strike or the prohibition of torture are not mentioned, was founded in 1983 by the reform government side so that certain commands and prohibitions are regulated by treaties or international. Right to food was the government exaggerated. [39]
Beatrix (2003), Queen of the Netherlands, Urururenkelin of William I. . It is a permanent part of the government.

The second chapter, on the government (regering), is divided into two paragraphs, the King (koning) (Art. 24-41), and the King and the Minister (Article 42-49).

The provisions concerning the king deal with in full detail to the throne and their contingencies, including the question of a regency, when a successor grounds of age can not be king. According to Article 24 goes on through the koningsschap heritage to the legal successor of King William I, Prince of Orange-Nassau.

The reform of 1983 eliminated a provision according to which the sons have precedence over daughters. Despite the detailed regulations, Heringa and Zwart, lacks a provision in the event that the heir to the throne, the Office can not exercise because of physical or mental disability. [40] If there is no king to have been determined and no ruler, then performs the State of the Office. [41]

Prior to this, the word king in the constitution of both the king as a person (such as a recipient of appanages ), my king as part of the government and the king as a synonym for the government, for the last case, the reform in 1983 instead, the word used government. [42]
Ministry of General Affairs in The Hague , seat of the Prime Minister

When a new government is needed, usually after elections, the king appoints a informateur who speaks with fractions. Then one also appointed by the King seeks formateur a government team together. Sometimes these are already to the future prime minister. The kabinettsformatie are critics of the Basic Law and the monarchy, the largest attack points. Thus, the left-liberal party wants D66 can determine the formateur by the Second Chamber or the people. [43]

The former implies that the King, the Ministers naar Welge vallen appoints and dismisses (to delight), was removed in 1983. However, the cabinet formation is still the one field in which the king still has some freedom to control. [44] The king is managed as part of the government. Normally, the Prime Minister once a week, a conversation with the king or the queen. The Constitution gives Parliament no legal right to overthrow the government, but a government would hardly be able to act without reserve in the Second Chamber.
States General
Throne in the great hall of The Hague . In the great hall once come in for Budget Day, both Houses of Parliament together, and the Queen reads the government statement.

The Staten-Generaal (States-General or Estates-General) with its two chambers form the Parliament of the Netherlands (Article 50-72). If both chambers occur together (usually once a year to the Budget Day ), this is called Verenigde Vergadering (United meeting). The real parliament, government and MPs to act together in the which is Tweede Kamer (Second Chamber). Article 53 calls elections before by proportional representation.

According to Article 50 of the States General het Nederlandse Gehele folk represented (all Dutch people). This was added in 1814 to delineate the new against the old unity government, sovereign provinces. Even the First Chamber , whose 75 members are elected by the Provinciale Staten, has no federal function (eg to represent the interests of the provinces). [45] The first chamber is politically restrained and can draft laws (of the Second Chamber) accept or reject but not change. [46]
State and other institutions
Building of the State Council in The Hague

The fourth chapter deals with the Raad van State (Council of State), the Algemene Rekenkamer (General Accounting Chamber) and van vaste college advice?, ie permanent advisory bodies (Art. 73-80).

The most important of these institutions is the State Council, the three tasks are described in Article 73: firstly give advice on draft legislation, secondly designing general and administrative measures. Third, the State Council has responsibilities in the general case, as a court of appeal, if a citizen feels wronged by the state administration.

The State Council sitting in front of the king.
Legislation and Administration

The chapter on Wetgeving s bestuur first paragraph lays down in a binding laws and the rules adopted by the Empire (Articles 81-89). In the second paragraph it comes to other provisions (Articles 90-111).

The right to initiate a bill, the government and the Second Chamber, the first may be very indirect influence (through an informal suggestion otherwise to fail the entire law). Laws are adopted jointly by the Government and the States-General (Article 81). Finally, a law must be signed by the king, the king is meant by “unassailable” part of the government (onaantastbaar, “irresponsible”, he can not be prosecuted). However, this action falls under the ministerial responsibility. [47]
Building the Hoge Raad in The Hague , the highest Dutch court

Articles 112-122 (Chapter 6) provide basic standards of the law again and let the legislator large space to set up and compilation of the courts. In contrast to the Basic Law of 1972, the formulation was dropped in 1983, that law is “In the Name of the King” spoken. The government found the uniformity of decisions also provides otherwise. [48]

Unlike, for example in Belgium or Germany, there is no constitutional jurisdiction in the Netherlands. Article 120 states that a judge may not judge the constitutionality of laws and treaties. An otherwise advance the staatscommissie Cals-Donner was rejected by the government and the Second chamber at the time. However, judges may review the law to determine whether they comply with international treaties. So the laws are not inviolable, so Heringa and Zwart. The lack of constitutional jurisdiction is justified by the fact that the verdict of the judges could be political in nature, which is not entitled to judges. [49]
Provinces, municipalities, etc.
Provinces of the Netherlands

Chapter 7 (Articles 123-136) deals with the local authorities, ie provinces, municipalities, water boards ( water boards ) and other public bodies.

Provinces and municipalities can easily erected or repealed by law (Art. 123), the formulation allows the Parliament to delegate the decision boundary changes. [50]

Opened in 1983, the new revising Article 130 of the legislature the opportunity to give foreign residents the right to vote in local elections. In 1986 these were the first time to participate in the municipal elections. [51]
Constitutional amendments and other articles

The procedure for amending the Basic Law is set out in Articles 137-142 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, it has remained virtually unchanged since 1848. First, the government or the Second Chamber bills brings to the Second Chamber, informally is called “first reading”. These bills are announcing that a constitutional amendment is being considered, they are also treated as other bills. When informed of the adoption of the draft Decrees.

After that Parliament must be dissolved, since 1995, only the Second Chamber. The Dutch obtained by elections the opportunity to vote on the constitutional amendments. After convening a new Second Chamber, there will be a second reading of the bills that are submitted again. When adopted by both chambers, they are reinforced by Royal Charter, proclaimed and come into force. In practice, the second chamber is not specifically released for the constitutional amendment, but anyway we wait for the upcoming elections. The constitutional amendments go in the general election under this. [52] An exception was the early election of 1948 in connection with the Indonesian War of Independence . Consequently, constitutional amendments come into existence in temporal proximity to elections. There are no time limits prescribed, the ultimate confirmation can take place later.

At the end of the Constitution (Article I, Article IX, Article XIX) are some transitional and final provisions, for example, which forms shall be used for government actions such as the proclamation of the law.
Other constitutional law
Parliament building in Aruba
European Parliament in Strasbourg

Grondwet not even heard the Statuut voor het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden, by the law of 28 October 1954 came about. Since then formed the Netherlands, Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles , under the Statute, the Kingdom of the Netherlands . The Grondwet applies in its entirety only for the Netherlands, some of its provisions, however, apply to the Kingdom of the Netherlands as a whole, such as the nationality .

After 20 years of existence, the structure of the Koninkrijks of the Netherlands has changed several times: Surinam became independent in 1975, Aruba in 1986 spun off from the rest of the West Indies. The Netherlands Antilles were entirely abolished in 2010 and the autonomous regions Sint Maarten and Curaçao and the Netherlands connected to the BES islands divided. The Kingdom of the Netherlands since then includes the overseas territories of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten and the Netherlands. The Dutch monarch is also king of the kingdom. When the Dutch cabinet negotiations on issues that affect overseas, so take as representatives of these regions Minister Plenipotentiary (gevolmachtigde Minister) to the Cabinet part. This is referred to Rijksministerraad. [53] However, the Minister Plenipotentiary are not part of the Cabinet.

Furthermore, international agreements have an effect on the Dutch constitutional law, such as the European Convention on Human Rights from 1950 / 53rd Also the EU law is of great importance. On international law not only a judicial review came to the Dutch State Law: It is only since 1983, the death penalty is constitutionally prohibited, previously only by simple law and international treaties.

In the relationship between the government and parliament has internal law, for example, the Convention since 1868 not to let dissolve twice for the same reason, the Second Chamber, or that the government first asked for dismissal and then the Second Chamber is dissolved. According Kortmann practice boils down to that unwritten constitutional law are the uses of which claim the concerned offices in common that they are unwritten law. However, the non-compliance of such non-normative practices has no legal consequences. [54]

As a very old constitution Grondwet is quite conservative. They originally served mainly to regulate the relations between King and Parliament. In contrast to other Western European monarchies constitutions, for example, Denmark and Belgium, none was also subsequently popular sovereignty established. Similarly unmentioned remains a right of Parliament to force the resignation of the government. In the Grondwet also the notions of “democracy”, “citizen” and “party” not before.

The Grondwet has no preamble, and is low in statements that could be interpreted as ideological. Comes closest to the “anti-discrimination article” 1 of 1983, which is cited by nature especially from the political left. The Islam-critical right-wing populist Pim Fortuyn, pointed to the contrast of Article 1 (prohibition of discrimination) of Article 9 (freedom of expression) and wanted to see the contrast canceled in favor of freedom of expression.

In comparison to Germany or the United States, the Dutch Constitution in the national symbolism a minor role, although it is certainly recognized as a historically and legally significant document. Unlike in Germany, Denmark and a number of other countries is no Constitution known.

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