Process starts for Senate voting rights of Dutch nationals abroad
THE HAGUE – Dutch nationals living abroad, including those in Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten, may very well get voting rights for the First Chamber of the Dutch Parliament in a couple of years.
The Dutch Council of Ministers on Friday approved a law proposal of Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops to give Dutch nationals abroad influence on the composition of the First Chamber.
In the future, after the law proposal is approved by both the Second and First Chambers, there will be an electoral council that will be elected by Dutch nationals living abroad. The members of the electoral council will participate in electing the members of the First Chamber, the Senate.
In the current system, the members of the Provincial States in the Netherlands and the Electoral Councils of the Dutch public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba elect the members of the First Chamber.
The Provincial States are elected by Dutch nationals residing in the Dutch provinces, while the Caribbean Netherlands electoral councils are elected by Dutch nationals of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.
Currently, Dutch nationals abroad have no say in the composition of the Senate, but they can vote for the Second Chamber and the European Parliament. “Government doesn’t consider this level-headed. In the governing accord it was agreed that Dutch nationals abroad should also be able to exercise their voting right in relation to the Senate,” it was stated in a press release of the Dutch government on Friday.
All Dutch nationals residing abroad, who comply with the conditions to vote in the Second Chamber elections, will acquire a voting right for the electoral council. These persons may also postulate themselves for the electoral council.
The Dutch Constitution will have to be amended in order to institute the electoral council. This will take several years. As with any change to the Constitution, two consecutive Parliaments will have to give their approval. In the second term, the law proposal will require the support of at least two-thirds of Parliament.
The Dutch Council of Ministers on Friday agreed to send the law proposal for advice to the Council of State. The text of the law proposal, along with the advice of the Council of State, will become public when it is submitted to the Second Chamber for handling.
Foundation Dutch Nationals outside the Netherlands SNBN is very content with Friday’s approval of the law proposal by the Dutch Council of Ministers. “Again, a step forward, again a piece of recognition of Dutch people abroad and acknowledgement for the fact that laws in the Netherlands also affect them,” said SNBN Chairman Eelco Keij, who lives and works in New York.
“It is absolutely logical that Dutch nationals living abroad have a say in laws that concern them. SNBN thanks the government for correcting this democratic hiatus in a vigorous manner. As SNBN, we will keep other issues also on the agenda such as the voting process from abroad and the double nationality,” said Keij.
Keij, a former candidate for the Democratic Party D66 in the Second Chamber elections a few years ago, was one of the initiative-takers of the motion that was approved at the D66 congress in April 2015. That motion called for the granting of voting rights of Dutch nationals abroad so they too could have influence on the Senate’s composition.
“During the last elections for the Provincial States and indirectly for the First Chamber, again an estimated 800,000 Dutch nationals outside the Netherlands, including those living in the Dutch Caribbean, were kept out. The Senate does have political influence on the lives of all Dutch people, no matter where they live,” Keij said in April 2015.