Battle opens up over direct mayoral elections

7th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

7 March 2005, AMSTERDAM — To ward off a possible veto of the party's legislation in the Dutch Senate, two Democrat D66 politicians proposed a phased implementation of direct mayoral elections, starting with the large cities next year.

7 March 2005

AMSTERDAM — To ward off a possible veto of the party's legislation in the Dutch Senate, two Democrat D66 politicians proposed a phased implementation of direct mayoral elections, starting with the large cities next year.

D66 Senator Eddy Schuyer outlined the compromise proposal on public broadcaster Radio 1 on Monday morning, attracting support from D66 MP Boris van der Ham, news agency ANP reported. Party leader Boris Dittrich has rejected the proposal.

The compromise is designed to strengthen a policy introducing a system of direct elections for municipal mayors. Opposition party Labour PvdA is warning it will vote against the legislation in the Senate, preventing its implementation.

The PvdA's support for the proposal is vital, because it would require changes to the Dutch Constitution, which in turn must be backed by a two-third majority in the Senate, known as Eerste Kamer in Dutch. Currently, the Dutch monarch appoints mayors.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende previously suggested a phased implementation. But that sparked the anger of D66 Deputy Prime Minister Thom de Graaf, whose legislative proposal states that the every municipality must hold mayoral elections next year.

A system of direct mayoral elections was included at the insistence of the D66 in the coalition government accord it signed with the Christian Democrat CDA and Liberal VVD in 2003.

But Balkenende said in a CDA magazine at the start of February this year that it might be better to postpone the implementation of mayoral elections in municipalities that are still struggling to implement 2002 legislation relating to dual municipal council structure. This mainly affects smaller municipalities.

The legislation stipulated a strict separation between a city council and the municipal's executive council, made up of the mayor and alderman and women.

And the issue of mayoral elections was blown up by PvdA Senate leader Han Noten, who said on Sunday his party would vote against the proposal because the government wants to rush the legislation through.
 
D66 chiefs reacted angrily to the PvdA stance, with Economic Affairs Minister Laurens Jan Brinkhorst and party leader Dittrich pointing out that the PvdA had already voted in favour of the motion. Legislation that amends the constitution must be voted on twice.

Both Brinkhorst and Dittrich also said the PvdA is opposed to the contents of the legislative proposal which must still pass through the Lower House of Parliament, Tweede Kamer, and not the vote to amend the constitution.
 
Meanwhile, coalition parties in the Lower House the CDA and VVD are also concerned about an all-at-once "big bang" implementation of direct mayoral elections. The coalition parties are expected to discuss the matter on Wednesday.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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