House of Representatives (Netherlands)

House of Representatives

Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal
States General of the Netherlands
Coat of arms of the Tweede Kamer.svg
Type
Type
Leadership
Vera Bergkamp, D66
since 7 April 2021
Structure
Seats 150
2021 Dutch House of Representatives.svg
Political groups
Government (77)
(demissionary)[1]
  •   VVD (34)
  •   D66 (24)
  •   CDA (14)
  •   CU (5)

Opposition (73)

Elections
Party-list proportional representation D'Hondt method
Last election
17 March 2021
Next election
In or before March 2025
Meeting place
Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken.jpg
Bezuidenhoutseweg 67, The Hague
Website
House of Representatives

The House of Representatives (Dutch: Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal, pronounced [ˈtʋeːdə ˈkaːmər dɛr ˈstaːtə(ŋ) ˌɣeːnəˈraːl] (About this soundlisten); commonly referred to as the Tweede Kamer, literally Second Chamber of the States General) is the lower house of the bicameral parliament of the Netherlands, the States General, the other one being the Senate. It has 150 seats, which are filled through elections using a party-list proportional representation. Generally, the house is located in the Binnenhof in The Hague, however, it has temporarily moved to the former building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Bezuidenhoutseweg 67 in the Hague while the Binnenhof is being renovated.[2]

Name

Although the body is officially called the "House of Representatives" in English, it is not a direct translation of its official Dutch name, the "Second Chamber of the States General", "Second Chamber" or more colloquially just the "Chamber". Rather than "representatives" (afgevaardigden), members of the House are referred to as Tweede Kamerlid ("member of the Second Chamber").

Functions

The House of Representatives is the main legislative body of the States General, where discussions of proposed legislation and review of the actions of the cabinet take place. Both the Cabinet and the House of Representatives itself have the right to propose legislation; the House of Representatives discusses it and, if adopted by a majority, sends it on to the Senate. Review of the actions of the cabinet takes the form of formal interrogations, which may result in motions urging the cabinet to take, or refrain from, certain actions. No individual may be a member of both parliament and cabinet, except in a caretaker cabinet that has not yet been succeeded when a new House is sworn in.

The House of Representatives is also responsible for the first round of selection for judges to the Supreme Court of the Netherlands. It submits a list of three names for every vacant position to the Government. Furthermore, it elects the Dutch Ombudsman and their subsidiaries.

Elections

The normal term of the House of Representatives is four years. Elections are called when the government loses the parliament's confidence, the governing coalition breaks down, the term of the House of Representatives expires or when no governing coalition can be formed.

Parties

Anyone eligible to vote in the Netherlands also has the right to establish a political party and contest in elections for the House of Representatives. Parties wanting to take part must register 43 days before the elections, supplying a nationwide list of no more than 50 candidates (80 if the party already has more than 15 seats). Parties that do not have any sitting candidates in the House of Representatives must also pay a deposit (11,250 euro for the March 2021 elections, for all districts together) and provide 30 signatures of support from residents of each of the 20 electoral districts in which they want to collect votes.

Party lists

Candidate lists are given to voters at least 14 days before the election. Each candidate list is numbered, with the candidate in the first position being known as the lijsttrekker ("list puller"). The lijsttrekker is usually appointed by the party to lead its election campaign, and is almost always the party's political leader and candidate for Prime Minister. Parties may choose to compete with different candidate lists in each of the 20 electoral districts, but as seats are allocated on a national rather than district level, most parties have almost identical lists in all districts with candidates running. Only large parties usually have some regional candidates at the bottom of their lists. From 1973 until its abolition in June 2017 it was possible for two or more parties to combine their separate lists to increase the chance of winning a remainder seat. This was known as a 'list combination' or Lijstverbinding / lijstencombinatie.[3]

Registration and voting

Citizens of the Kingdom of the Netherlands aged 18 and over have the right to vote, with the exception of 1) prisoners serving a term of more than one year, 2) those who have been declared incapable by court because of insanity, 3) residents of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, unless they have spent ten years residing in the Netherlands or work for the Dutch civil service.[4] Eligible citizens residing in the Netherlands are able to vote if they are registered in a municipal population register (Basisregistratie Personen). Eligible citizens living outside of the Netherlands can permanently register to vote at the municipality of The Hague, provided they have a current Dutch passport or identity card.

A single vote can be placed on any one candidate. Many voters select one of the lijsttrekkers (Jan Peter Balkenende, for example, received 2,198,114 of the CDA's 2,608,573 votes in the November 2006 elections), but alternatively may give a preference vote for a candidate lower down the list.

Allocation of seats

Exterior of the (temporarily unused) House of Representatives

Once the votes have been counted, the seats are allocated to the parties. The number of valid national votes cast is divided by 150, the number of seats available, to give a threshold for each seat (the kiesdeler); 1/150th is approximately 0.67% of the valid votes. Each party's number of votes is divided by this threshold, and rounded down to the nearest whole number, to give an initial number of seats equal to the number of times the threshold was reached.[5] Any party that received fewer votes than the threshold fails to gain representation in the House of Representatives. After the initial seats are allocated, the remainder seats are allocated among the parties that received at least one seat, using the D'Hondt method of largest averages. This system slightly favours the larger parties. Since parties that received fewer votes than required to obtain one whole seat are not eligible for remainder seats, there is a de facto election threshold of 0.67%.[6] This threshold is one of the lowest for national parliaments in the world, and there are usually multiple parties winning seats with 2% or less of the vote. Any party that did not have seats in the House at the time of the election will have its deposit refunded if it receives more than 75% of the threshold (1/200th of the vote).

Once the number of seats allocated to each party is known, they are usually allocated to candidates in the order that they appear on the party's list. (Hence, before the elections, the candidates near the top may be described as in an electable position, depending on the number of seats that the party is likely to obtain.) At this stage, however, the preference votes are also taken into account. Any candidate receiving more than one quarter of the threshold on personal preference votes (the 'preference threshold' or voorkeursdrempel, 0.1675% of the total number of valid votes), is considered elected in their own right, leapfrogging candidates higher on the list. After the November 2006 elections, only one candidate received a seat exclusively through preference votes, while the 26 other candidates who reached the preference threshold were already elected based on their position on the list. If a candidate cannot take up the position in parliament (e.g., if they become a minister, decide not to enter parliament, or later resign) then the next candidate on the list takes their place.

Formation of governing coalition

After all seats are allocated, a series of negotiations take place in order to form a government that, usually, commands a majority in the chamber. Since 2012, the House of Representatives appoints a "scout" to ask the major party leaders about prospective coalitions. On basis of the scout's interviews, the House of Representatives then appoints an informateur, who checks out possible coalitions, and formateur, who leads negotiations (before 2012, the informateur and formateur were appointed by the monarch). It typically takes a few months before the formateur is ready to accept a royal invitation to form a government and become prime minister. All cabinet members must resign from parliament, as the constitution does not allow a cabinet member to simultaneously hold a seat in the House of Representatives.

Due to the nationwide party-list system and the low election threshold, a typical House of Representatives has ten or more factions represented. Such fragmentation makes it nearly impossible for one party to win the 76 seats needed for a majority in the House of Representatives. Since the current party-list proportional representation system was introduced in 1918, no party has reached the number of seats that are theoretically required to govern alone or win enough for an outright majority. The highest amount of seats won by a single party since then has been 54 out of 150, by the CDA in 1986 and 1989. Between 1891 and 1897, the Liberal Union was the last party to have an absolute majority of seats in the House of Representatives. All Dutch cabinets since then have been coalitions of two or more parties.

House of Representatives offices

The buildings that house the individual offices of the Members of the House of Representatives and conference rooms for closed-door party meetings are all located in the Binnenhof. The main buildings of the old Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Colonial Affairs are used as accommodations.

Composition

Historical compositions

Representation per party, between 1946 and 2021

Historically, there have been 100 seats in the House of Representatives. In 1956, this number was increased to 150, at which it remains today.

To give an overview of the history of the House of Representatives, the figure on the right shows the seat distribution in the House from the first general elections after World War II (1946) to the most recent election. The left-wing parties are located towards the bottom, while the Christian parties are located in the centre, and the right-wing parties towards the top. Occasionally, single-issue (or narrow-focus) parties have arisen, and these are shown at the extreme top. Vertical lines indicate general elections. Although these are generally held every four years, the resulting coalition governments do not always finish their term without a government crisis, which is often followed by new elections.

Current composition

The general election of 2021 was held on Wednesday, 17 March 2021.

Tweede Kamer 2021.svg
Party Votes % Seats +/–
People's Party for Freedom and Democracy 2,279,130 21.87 34 +1
Democrats 66 1,565,861 15.02 24 +5
Party for Freedom 1,124,482 10.79 17 −3
Christian Democratic Appeal 990,601 9.50 15 −4
Socialist Party 623,371 5.98 9 −5
Labour Party 597,192 5.73 9 0
GroenLinks 537,308 5.16 8 −6
Forum for Democracy 523,083 5.02 8 +6
Party for the Animals 399,750 3.84 6 +1
Christian Union 351,275 3.37 5 0
Volt Netherlands 252,480 2.42 3 New
JA21 246,620 2.37 3 New
Reformed Political Party 215,249 2.07 3 0
DENK 211,237 2.03 3 0
50PLUS 106,702 1.02 1 −3
Farmer–Citizen Movement 104,319 1.00 1 New
BIJ1 87,238 0.84 1 +1
Code Orange 40,731 0.39 0 New
NIDA 33,834 0.32 0 New
Splinter 30,328 0.29 0 New
Pirate Party 22,816 0.22 0 0
JONG 15,297 0.15 0 New
Trots op Nederland 13,198 0.13 0 0
Henk Krol List 9,264 0.09 0 New
NLBeter 8,657 0.08 0 New
List 30 8,277 0.08 0 New
Libertarian Party 5,546 0.05 0 0
OpRecht 5,449 0.05 0 New
Jesus Lives 5,015 0.05 0 0
The Party Party 3,744 0.04 0 New
Ubuntu Connected Front 1,880 0.02 0 New
Free and Social Netherlands 942 0.01 0 New
Party of Unity 804 0.01 0 New
We Are the Netherlands 553 0.01 0 New
Modern Netherlands 245 0.00 0 New
Party for the Republic 255 0.00 0 New
The Greens 119 0.00 0 0
Total 10,422,852 100.00 150 0
Valid votes 10,422,852 99.62
Invalid/blank votes 39,825 0.38
Total votes 10,462,677 100.00
Registered voters/turnout 13,293,186 78.71
Source: Kiesraad

Parliamentary leaders

Parliamentary leaders Party Service as
parliamentary leader
Service as a Member of
the House of Representatives
Mark Rutte Mark Rutte
(born 1967)
[Party Leader]
VVD 31 March 2021
(245 days)
Previous Service
  • 29 June 2006 –
    8 October 2010
    (4 years, 101 days)

    20 September 2012 –
    1 November 2012
    (42 days)

    23 March 2017 –
    13 October 2017
    (204 days)
31 March 2021
(245 days)
Previous Service
  • 30 January 2003 –
    27 May 2003
    (28 days)

    28 June 2006 –
    14 October 2010
    (4 years, 108 days)

    20 September 2012 –
    5 November 2012
    (46 days)

    23 March 2017 –
    26 October 2017
    (217 days)
Sophie Hermans Sophie Hermans
(born 1981)
31 March 2021
(245 days)
23 March 2017
(4 years, 253 days)
Sigrid Kaag Sigrid Kaag
(born 1961)
[Party Leader]
D66 28 September 2021
(64 days)

31 March 2021 –
25 mei 2021
(55 days)
31 March 2021
(245 days)
Rob Jetten Rob Jetten
(born 1987)
25 May 2021 –
28 September 2021
(126 days)

8 October 2018 –
31 March 2021
(2 years, 174 days)
23 March 2017
(4 years, 253 days)
Geert Wilders Geert Wilders
(born 1963)
[Party Leader]
PVV 30 November 2006
(15 years, 1 day)
26 July 2002
(19 years, 158 days)

25 August 1998 –
23 May 2002
(3 years, 271 days)
Wopke Hoekstra Wopke Hoekstra
(born 1975)
[Party Leader]
CDA 31 March 2021
(245 days)
31 March 2021
(245 days)
Lilian Marijnissen Lilian Marijnissen
(born 1985)
[Party Leader]
SP 13 December 2017
(3 years, 353 days)
23 March 2017
(4 years, 253 days)
Lilianne Ploumen Lilianne Ploumen
(born 1962)
[Party Leader]
PvdA 14 January 2021
(321 days)
23 March 2017
(4 years, 253 days)
Jesse Klaver Jesse Klaver
(born 1986)
[Party Leader]
GL 12 May 2015
(6 years, 203 days)
17 June 2010
(11 years, 167 days)
Thierry Baudet Dr.
Thierry Baudet
(born 1983)
[Party Leader]
FvD 23 March 2017
(4 years, 253 days)
23 March 2017
(4 years, 253 days)
Esther Ouwehand Esther Ouwehand
(born 1976)
[Party Leader]
PvdD 9 October 2019
(2 years, 53 days)

9 October 2018 –
31 January 2019
(114 days)

24 January 2012 –
14 May 2012
(111 days)
18 October 2016
(5 years, 44 days)

30 November 2006 –
17 November 2015
(8 years, 352 days)
Gert-Jan Segers Gert-Jan Segers
(born 1969)
[Party Leader]
CU 10 November 2015
(6 years, 21 days)
20 September 2012
(9 years, 72 days)
Laurens Dassen Laurens Dassen
(born 1985)
[Party Leader]
Volt 31 March 2021
(245 days)
31 March 2021
(245 days)
Joost Eerdmans Joost Eerdmans
(born 1971)
[Party Leader]
JA21 31 March 2021
(245 days)

25 September 2006 –
30 November 2006
(66 days)
31 March 2021
(245 days)

23 May 2002 –
30 November 2006
(4 years, 191 days)
Kees van der Staaij Kees van
der Staaij

(born 1968)
[Party Leader]
SGP 9 June 2010
(11 years, 175 days)
19 May 1998
(23 years, 196 days)
Farid Azarkan Farid Azarkan
(born 1971)
[Party Leader]
DENK 22 March 2020
(1 year, 254 days)

23 April 2018 –
2 September 2018
(132 days)
23 March 2017
(4 years, 253 days)
Caroline van der Plas Caroline van
der Plas

(born 1967)
[Party Leader]
BBB 31 March 2021
(245 days)
31 March 2021
(245 days)
Sylvana Simons Sylvana Simons
(born 1971)
[Party Leader]
BIJ1 31 March 2021
(245 days)
31 March 2021
(245 days)
Independent
Parliamentary leaders
Group/
Member
(Seats)
Service as
parliamentary leader
Service as a Member of
the House of Representatives
WybrenvanHaga2019.jpg Wybren van Haga
(born 1967)
Van Haga
Group
(3)
(split from FvD)
13 May 2021
(202 days)

24 September 2019 –
1 December 2020
(1 year, 68 days)
31 October 2017
(4 years, 31 days)
Pieter Omtzigt Dr.
Pieter Omtzigt
(born 1974)
Member
Omtzigt
(1)
(split from CDA)
15 September 2021
(77 days)
15 September 2021
(77 days)

26 October 2010 –
26 May 2021
(10 years, 212 days)

3 June 2003 –
17 June 2010
(7 years, 14 days)
Liane den Haan Liane den Haan
(born 1967)
Member
Den Haan
(1)
(split from 50+)
31 March 2021
(245 days)
6 May 2021
(209 days)
Mark Rutte is the Party Leader of the VVD
Sigrid Kaag is the Party Leader of D66
Geert Wilders is the Party Leader and Chairman of the PVV
Wopke Hoekstra is the Party Leader of the CDA
Lilian Marijnissen is the Party Leader of the SP
Lilianne Ploumen is the Party Leader of the PvdA
Jesse Klaver is the Party Leader of GreenLeft
Thierry Baudet is the Party Leader and Chairman of FvD
Esther Ouwehand is the Party Leader of the PvdD
Gert-Jan Segers is the Party Leader of the CU
Laurens Dassen is the Party Leader of Volt
Joost Eerdmans is the Party Leader of JA21
Kees van der Staaij is the Party Leader of the SGP
Farid Azarkan is the Party Leader of DENK
Caroline van der Plas is the Party Leader of the BBB
Sylvana Simons is the Party Leader of BIJ1

Members of the Presidium

Portrait Name Position Party Service in the Presidium Service as a member of
the House of Representatives
Vera Bergkamp Vera Bergkamp
(born 1971)
Speaker D66 31 October 2017
(4 years, 31 days)
20 September 2012
(9 years, 72 days)
Ockje Tellegen Ockje Tellegen
(born 1974)
First Deputy Speaker VVD 31 October 2017
(4 years, 31 days)
20 September 2012
(9 years, 72 days)
Martin Bosma Martin Bosma
(born 1964)
Second Deputy Speaker PVV 30 June 2010
(11 years, 246 days)
30 November 2006
(15 years, 1 day)
Anne Kuik Anne Kuik [nl]
(born 1987)
Third Deputy Speaker CDA 23 March 2017
(4 years, 253 days)
Michiel van Nispen Michiel van Nispen
(born 1982)
Fourth Deputy Speaker SP 2 April 2014
(7 years, 243 days)
Henk Nijboer Henk Nijboer
(born 1983)
Fifth Deputy Speaker PvdA 20 September 2012
(9 years, 72 days)
Tom van der Lee Tom van der Lee [nl]
(born 1964)
Sixth Deputy Speaker GL 23 March 2017
(4 years, 253 days)
Wybren van Haga Wybren van Haga
(born 1967)
Seventh Deputy Speaker Indep. 31 October 2017
(4 years, 31 days)
Frank Wassenberg Frank Wassenberg
(born 1966)
Eighth Deputy Speaker PvdD 17 November 2015
(6 years, 14 days)
Paul van Meenen Paul van Meenen
(born 1956)
Ninth Deputy Speaker D66 20 September 2012
(9 years, 72 days)

Parliamentary Committees

Parliamentary Committee Ministry Jurisdiction Current Chair
Parliamentary committee for the Interior [nl] Ministry of the Interior
and Kingdom Relations
Domestic policyCivil servicePublic administration
Local Government AffairsProvincial Government AffairsElections
Erik Ziengs (VVD)
Parliamentary committee for the Foreign Affairs [nl] Ministry of Foreign Affairs Foreign relationsForeign policyBenelux UnionNATODiaspora Pia Dijkstra (D66)
Parliamentary committee for the Finance [nl] Ministry of Finance Economic policyMonetary policyFiscal policyTax policy
Financial marketGovernment budget
Judith Tielen (VVD)
Parliamentary committee for
Justice and Security
Ministry of Justice and Security Justice systemLaw enforcementPublic security
Emergency managementImmigration policy
Paul van Meenen (D66)
Parliamentary committee for
Economic Affairs and Climate Policy
Ministry of Economic Affairs
and Climate Policy
Commercial policyIndustrial policyEnergy policy
Environmental policyTechnology policySpace policyTourism
Isabelle Diks (GL)
Parliamentary committee for Defence Ministry of Defence Armed forcesMilitary policyVeterans AffairsMilitary police
Defence diplomacyHumanitarian aid
Aukje de Vries (VVD)
Parliamentary committee for
Health, Welfare and Sport
Ministry of Health,
Welfare and Sport
Health careHealth policyHealth insurancePharmaceutical policy
Vaccination policyWelfareBiomedical sciencesSport
Helma Lodders (VVD)
Parliamentary committee for
Social Affairs and Employment
Ministry of Social Affairs
and Employment
Social policyEmploymentLabour economicsOccupational safety and health
Social securityConsumer protectionTrades unionsEmancipation
Michel Rog (CDA)
Parliamentary committee for
Education, Culture and Science
Ministry of Education,
Culture and Science
Education policyCultural policyScience policyKnowledge policy
ResearchArtGender equalityCommunicationMedia
Ockje Tellegen (VVD)
Parliamentary committee for
Infrastructure and Water Management
Ministry of Infrastructure
and Water Management
TransportWater ManagementAviationHousing policyPublic works
Spatial planningLand management
Agnes Mulder (CDA)
Parliamentary committee for
Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality
Ministry of Agriculture, Nature
and Food Quality
Agricultural policyFood policyFood safetyFisheries
Natural resourceNatural conservationForestryAnimal welfare
Attje Kuiken (PvdA)
Select Parliamentary Committee Ministry Jurisdiction Current Chair
Parliamentary committee for
Kingdom Relations
Ministry of the Interior
and Kingdom Relations
Kingdom Relations Jan Paternotte [nl] (D66)
Parliamentary committee for
European Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs European Union Hayke Veldman (VVD)
Parliamentary committee for
Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Investment policyInternational tradeExport promotionDevelopment Cooperation
Foreign Disaster reliefInternational Environmental policies
Raymond de Roon (PVV)
Parliamentary committee for
Building Supervision
Ministry of Infrastructure
and Water Management
Illegal construction • Construction Fraud Ockje Tellegen (VVD)
Parliamentary committee for
Petitions and the Citizen Initiatives
ReferendumsInitiatives Sven Koopmans (VVD)
Parliamentary committee for
Intelligence and Security
IntelligenceSecurityNational securityComputer security Klaas Dijkhoff (VVD)
Presidium of the House of Representatives House of Representatives Administration Khadija Arib (PvdA)
Special Parliamentary Committee Ministry Jurisdiction Current Chair
Special Parliamentary committee for
Digital Future
Digital Infrastructure • Internet accessWi-FiDigital rights Kathalijne Buitenweg (GL)
Special Parliamentary committee for
Investigation of Unwanted Influence from Foreign Entities
Foreign electoral intervention • Foreign donations policy Michel Rog (CDA)

In the media

Plenary sessions of the house are broadcast via a live audio-only transmission called the Tweede Kamerlijn, available on the internet and through most Dutch cable operators. The service also broadcasts important committee meetings if there is no plenary at the time.

Copyright