Forming a new Dutch government

23rd November 2006, Comments 0 comments

The Christian Democrat CDA and Socialist SP have emerged as the winners of Wednesday's parliamentary elections, but how is the new government formed?

Voters

More than 12 million Dutch nationals aged 18 or older are allowed to vote at the Lower House of Parliament elections.

Only Dutch nationals are allowed to place a vote at the national elections.

On a local level, however, EU nationals and non-EU nationals who have been in the country at least five years are allowed to vote.

Eligible voters are sent a voting card and a candidate list no later than two weeks before elections.

Voting is voluntary.

Polling stations

Polling stations are open from 7am until 9pm.

About half of the Dutch municipalities participated this year in the experiment 'Vote in a random polling station'.

Voters within these municipalities were able to vote at a polling station of their choice with a voter's pass, rather than the polling station closest to home.

An employer is obligated to give staff two-hours off to place their vote.

Result

The Netherlands will count votes places at about 10,000 polling stations where votes are placed via a ballot computer or the traditional pencil and paper ballot.

The results from each of the stations will be passed on via the mayors and main polling stations to the Electoral Council which will eventually confirm results.

Results will be made official on Monday 27 November from 3pm in the Old Hall of the Lower House of Parliament.

This gathering is open to the public.

How many seats (MPs) a party gains will be decided by how many votes the party wins.

Municipalities will release their official results on election night as quickly as possible after polling stations close.

The official results nation-wide are determined by those results.

The temporary results and official results generally do not differ very much.

Voter turnout

Voter turnout this year was about 80 percent.

At the previous parliamentary elections in January 2003, some 79.9 percent of eligible voters placed a vote. In May 2002, that was 79.1 percent.

In 1998, the voter turnout rate was 73.3 percent, while 78.8 percent of voters cast a ballot in 1994.

New Parliament

The Dutch Parliament will first meet eight days after the election. New MPs are then installed.

One day earlier, Wednesday 29 November, the old parliament will meet one more time.

The old parliament retains full authority until the new MPs are installed.

Formation of government

The Queen decides when she will ask the party leaders to advise her over the formation of a new Cabinet.

This usually takes place one or two days after the elections.

The Queen meets with the vice-president of the Council of State and the chairpersons of the Senate and Lower House of Parliament for advice.

The Queen will eventually appoint the informateur or formateur.

Usually, an informateur is appointed first. The informateur is a politician who investigates on behalf of the crown whether a proposed cabinet formation will succeed.

The informateur enters into talks with the parties that wish to form a coalition Cabinet.

When the informateur is finished with his or her work, the formateur can then start with the actual work of forming the cabinet.

The formateur usually becomes the prime minister of the new government.

New Cabinet

When the new ministers and state secretaries have been decided upon, the Queen will officially swear in the new cabinet.

Up until that moment, which could take several months, the current ministers and state secretaries continue working in a caretaker role, seeing to everyday items without taking new initiatives.

22 November 2006

[Copyright Expatica 2006]

Subject: Dutch elections 2006

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